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Thursday, August 19, 2010

A Rav Weighs In re: Paying Employees

In a previous discussion of non-payment (sadly, a regular feature here on Orthonomics), it was mentioned that the issue of non-payment really is far more complicated than it appeared and that it would be helpful if the peanut gallery stopped giving their own uneducated psakim, but sought Rabbinic opinion.

Well, lucky for us, none other than Lakewood's Rav Matisyahu Solomon explained to parents why he recommended closing of Yeshiva Bais HaTorah of Lakewood (see previous post here). Obviously this yeshiva is not the only one demonstrating an all too common trend of non-payment and debts. The answer was simple and logical:

The Mashgiach answered, that he was not approached by other Yeshivahs, and perhaps would have given similar advice, should they seek it.

The Mashgiach explained, parents of the Yeshivah tell TLS, that Yeshivahs without sustainable budgets, cannot continue without a way to pay Rabbeim, and he therefore recommended that Yeshivah Bais Hatorah close until a permanent solution can be found, and not have to rely on emergency meetings to balance the
budgets.


There you have it. A Yeshiva must have a sustainable budget in order to pay staff. Where this is not the case, a Yeshiva must close until a real plan, not one reliant on miracles, is in place. Makes sense to me.

48 comments:

Mordechai Y. Scher said...

I find it very sad that they had to wait to hear it from Rav Solomon. Very sad, indeed. A very unfortunate indicator of the state of Torah in our society.

Avi said...

Mordechai,

More an unfortunate indicator of the state of common sense in our society.

Mordechai Y. Scher said...

Avi, maybe. But I'm afraid that somehow certain social/religious circles have removed the role of common sense and simple intelligence from the Torah. Framed either way, I think we basically agree.

rosie said...

One commenter said that this is the first time that he has seen a Rav publicly address the topic of fiscal responsibility. Many posters were wondering if fiscal responsibility was also being recommended for kollel students and Jewish families in general.
He did not say though, that in every case of a school that paid staff late, that someone was guilty of an aveira and I think that we must be careful not to label anyone guilty of an aveira when we don't really know.
He was also addressing the particulars of this yeshiva. I don't know if his p'sak is for any other yeshiva although if it were universal, more yeshivas would obviously have to close.

JS said...

"He did not say though, that in every case of a school that paid staff late, that someone was guilty of an aveira and I think that we must be careful not to label anyone guilty of an aveira when we don't really know.
He was also addressing the particulars of this yeshiva. I don't know if his p'sak is for any other yeshiva although if it were universal, more yeshivas would obviously have to close."

I apologize in advance. I don't mean to single you out Rosie, and if what I'm saying below doesn't apply to you, just ignore. I'm using it as an example of what I find so troubling about "frum thinking."

This kind of thought process is just so upsetting to me. This constant focus on whether or not something is an aveira over and above any consideration of simply whether it's wrong. Common sense tells you it's wrong to hire someone to perform certain services and then not pay them. Common sense tells you it's wrong to run an organization without any way of ever paying employees in full or on time. This is just common sense. Whether or not there's some loophole or technicality that makes it no longer an aveira is really beside the point. I'll leave that issue to God. All I care about is that it is immoral and wrong. But, this is never enough in the frum world for some reason. The most brain-dead obvious stuff gets mired in loopholes and technicalities to the point where nothing is wrong anymore since it's not an aveira. This way of thinking goes against the most basic principles of Judaism.

Same with the psak issue. Who cares whether or not his psak is for other yeshivas or not? You shouldn't need a rabbi to tell you it's wrong to not pay employees or that it's wrong to mismanage communal institutions. Again, this is obviously wrong on its face. The fact that you need a rav to paskin this is absurd to me. The other yeshivas shouldn't breath a sigh of relief that they can stay open as there was no psak for them. They should be taking a hard look in the mirror and checking if they're running their business appropriately. Secular businesses do this all the time without the benefit of some rabbi - why do we need religious advisors to run a business properly?

If a person was running around with other women while he was married we wouldn't wonder if he was committing an aveira or seek a psak from a rav regarding his behavior. We'd intuitively know it's wrong (I hope). Why is this different?

Honestly Frum said...

Perrhaps if more people were encouraged to work and leave kollel a few years earlier, train and get an advanced degree there would be less issues with non-payment, just a thought.

rosie said...

JS, what is different is that yeshivas don't have all the money up front when they hire the staff. They have pledges of tuition and donations that will hopefully be paid throughout the year. If the money comes in and is mismanaged, that is one thing but if they don't get the money that is owed to them, then how can they meet their obligations? And I have seen people putting kids in yeshivas with the full intent of not paying the agreed upon amount but then how does that transcribe into the yeshiva hanhala having the avaira? If a business hires an employee, figuring on an amount of money coming in to pay and then the business collapses and bankrupts, leaving people unpaid, is it an avaira if it was not due to deliberate mismanagement?

Miami Al said...

Rosie,

None of us running businesses or workers as managers in other businesses have a year of salary for someone sitting in a bank when we hire them.

We have cash reserves, revenue projects, and historic cash flow information. If you know that you have pledges for X and historically you collect 70% of X, then a conservative school would plan to spend 60% of X and if more comes in, retire debts or build endowments, so in one year, when 50% of X comes in, you are prepared.

The schools NEVER collect 100% of the tuition they billed for, and then throw their hands up about how parents aren't paying and what can they do.

This is either gross incompetence OR total malice.

The Yeshiva is responsible for their employees. This buck passing about parents and paying is pathetic. You KNOW what percentage pay, and you plan accordingly. Doing a budget pretending more people will pay then usual, then throwing your hands up "Oy, people aren't paying, vhat can I do?" is buck passing. You have to run your business accepting that some customers will stiff you.

It happens, client signs a contract, agrees to pay Net 30, and sometimes, you don't college. You have the lawyer send a nasty letter, you call, you try to collect, you might even sue, but sometimes, it doesn't get paid.

You are responsible for maintaining cash reserves to cover your bills and run your business, despite getting stiffed from time to time.

A school with 400 children in it PROBABLY has a budget of $4M - $6M. That's a pretty sizable organization to be running around wondering if you have to make sure you cover their payrolls.

This is not Shlomie's Electronics Store, this is a size-able mid-sized Enterprise, and should be able to manage their cash flow to pay their bills.

By what you are saying, it's only a problem if the money comes in and someone steals in, but if the school promises $1.10 for every $1 that comes in, what can you do?

And most importantly, we don't judge them unless a Rabbi rules that that particular school needs to be financially viable, no way to have a general principal like "pay your employees" like the Torah tells you.

Mordechai Y. Scher said...

JS, for a Jew the Torah's definitions and the commandment and the halacha are all part and parcel of the morality picture. The points you raised are entirely valid, but that doesn't render the Torah irrelevant. The very fact that civil law struggles with issues like what constitutes contract is an illustration of how the simple moral perspective is sometimes insufficient. So, even though you are right, the larger more compelling understanding of morality evolves precisely out of our being guided by a Divine Torah.

JS said...

"JS, for a Jew the Torah's definitions and the commandment and the halacha are all part and parcel of the morality picture."

Wrong. Mitzvahs and aveirahs have little if anything to do with what is morally right or wrong. King David may not have technically committed a sin when he took Bat Sheva, but that wasn't the point. It was wrong, plain and simple. God rightfully punishes him and David recognizes he did the wrong thing despite the brightest rabbinic minds absolving him in the Gemara.

"The points you raised are entirely valid, but that doesn't render the Torah irrelevant."

Who said it's irrelevant? All I said was that whether or not something is an aveira is not dispositive of whether or not it is wrong.

"The very fact that civil law struggles with issues like what constitutes contract is an illustration of how the simple moral perspective is sometimes insufficient."

What does whether or not a contract was formed have to do with morality? Besides, you're just proving my point. It may be that under the law there wasn't adequate compensation or there wasn't a meeting of the minds or what have you, so technically there wasn't a contract. But, that has nothing to do with whether it is morally right to deny the contract and put someone out on the streets, for example.

"So, even though you are right, the larger more compelling understanding of morality evolves precisely out of our being guided by a Divine Torah."

Again, wrong. We have a concept of acting "Lifnim mishurat hadin" - beyond the letter of the law. It is built into the Jewish system of laws that just following the letter of the law isn't enough, that some horrible results occur when people just abide by what is technically allowed or forbidden. We are enjoined to go beyond the letter of law if we wish to be moral human beings.

Miami Al said...

Mordechai Y. Scher said...

"JS, for a Jew the Torah's definitions and the commandment and the halacha are all part and parcel of the morality picture. The points you raised are entirely valid, but that doesn't render the Torah irrelevant."

No, it certainly does not. However, narrowly defining the Torah out of the picture in a goal of acting immorally and claiming to be free of sin renders the Torah irrelevant.

Pretty certain it is NOT JS defining Torah narrowly to permit his sinful actions.

rosie said...

I think that there is a "lesser of 2 evils" view even though it may not be halachically accurate. On the TLS site, commenter #11 asks if the Rav will also absolve those parents who cannot pay tuition from sending children to yeshiva. So the Torah charges fathers with the obligation to transmit the Torah to their sons but if they can't, they are allowed to find another person to do it. If they can't afford that, they at least must teach the child to read. We assume that the poor barely educated child will then enter the workforce at age 9, and remain at a low level unless he finishes an apprenticeship. Now today's child has a father who probably could teach him all that the Torah requires but does not have the time and the child today requires supervision rather than employment. His father will have to do something with him, whether he has the money or not. He could halachically teach the child all he needs to know in his spare time and allow the child to attend public school but until a big Rav exempts all who cannot pay from attending yeshiva, parents who cannot pay will not only clog the system, they ARE the system. Does the yeshiva rebbeim not know that when they work for a yeshiva? This guy, #11 is correct. He has now stranded nearly 400 boys by declaring the yeshiva defunct. Where should they go and who should pay for their education? Maybe it is time for him to answer #11.

rosie said...

My last sentences were not clear. The rav must answer what to do with 400 stranded yeshiva students as well as everyone else who can't afford yeshiva.

Dave said...

The rav must answer what to do with 400 stranded yeshiva students as well as everyone else who can't afford yeshiva.

If he had declared a local butcher shop treif, would he likewise be responsible for telling people where they should shop instead?

rosie said...

Dave:
He would not be responsible for where they shop but he would have to tell people what to do with the treif pots and dishes.
If you read the bottom of the tls article, you find that the parents are scrambling to find other yeshivas. Now I am not sure that other cash strapped yeshivas want to take in more non-payers. These parents will still continue to seek out yeshivas who will accept them on scholarship unless a big rav would give them an alternative. Most will not act on their own. Many would ask a rav before the child's father would leave kollel to go to work.

Dave said...

Rosie:

Surely that is something they should ask their Rabbi about?

He paskened for the school because the school asked. He didn't pasken for other schools because they did not.

rosie said...

He said that he would have given the same advice to any yeshiva that would have asked. Now that he has given the advice to this yeshiva to close, the next question should be what to do with the students. The question after that should be if the students should be enrolled in a yeshiva that does not pay the rebbeim. Those yeshivas have not yet asked the rav but maybe they should.

Anonymous said...

The Lakewood economic model had failed. It is unsustainable. Time to close the Lakewood experiment.

Orthonomics said...

JS-The reason we know it is wrong is because Torah has infused our society with a biblically based sense of right and wrong.

rosie said...

anon,
do you see an economic model anywhere that is working?

Lion of Zion said...

Mordechai Y. Scher:

i have to agree with JS.

i remember when we learned sanhedrin in 11th grade and we went through all the steps before someone can be convicted of a capital crime. basically a conviction is impossible. someone asked how could the torah let this happen? how are we supposed to handle the murderers in our midst. the teacher responded that obviously the murderer would be punished by the bet din shel ma'la and as far the functioning of society was concerned, the torah doesn't assume a society where there are so many murderers running around.
i have no idea if that was the correct answer. but i thought about it again last year when i read a rabbini response to some bad stuff going on in the ortho world and the response was yes its terrible (certainly worse than the subject of SL's post), but the halakhic framework simply doesn't identify it as wrong and hence doesn't provide a response to it. i found this very troubling (in a theological sense) then and i find it troubling here too.

rosie said...

Loz,
The RW mindset, is that the means is justified by the end. At one point, the frum world proudly announced a 95% day school attendance rate and maybe only a 1% intermarriage rate. How proud will most RWingers be when those figures chas v'sholem change? The mindset says that as long as kids are in a Jewish school, it does not matter how they got there.
The same mindset happens in shidduchim. The parent has to get their kid married so they may avoid giving information about psychiatric conditions so that they can accomplish that. They may also have to appear to have more money than they actually do.
If a person is of a mindset that nothing will stand in their way, then nothing will; not even an outsider's view of morality.
Other that a few frum groups trying to limit chassunah expenses, most poskim have not gotten into the financial fray except to encourage more tzedukah. This Rav paskening is truly significant and hopefully will be the start of some leadership getting involved with the financial mess that the frum world is in.

Chana said...

There is a concept in the gemara "patur midinei adam v'chayav b'dinei shamayim." Many times things cannot be prosecuted in the courts, or conviction is impossible for technical reasons. However, the offender is still morally obligated to pay damages. Hashem will punish him. Just because something is not a technical aveira that can be prosecuted, does not mean it is correct.

Anonymous said...

Interesting that everyone agrees that eating tiny bugs that can barely be seen with the human eye is unquestionably a terrible aveira, but not paying workers is technically excusable. No wonder The Wolf is feeling down...

Mordechai Y. Scher said...

JS deserves a measure response, but I'm short on energy just now, and in any case maybe not so capable. Same for LOZ. But I will point out that the notion of a morality outside the halacha is an interesting and strongly debated issue historically. Rav Aharon Lichtenstein has written a bit on this, and certainly favors the idea that there is a morality outside the framework of the halacha. Personally, I agree; though my opinio means little (except to me!). Rav Kook and Rav Tzadok certainly believed in a 'natural moraltiy', and thought it important.

LOZ/Ari, I think you got a poor answer for that g'mara. And the other stuff you mentioned is far worse. Cop out, I'd say.

JS, at first I thought you are arguing for a natural morality that precedes the Torah. Sort of like (but not the same as) derech eretz kadma l'torah. That is what Rav Kook means. But then in your retort to me, you talk about lifnim m'shurat hadin; an entirely different notion which presupposes a primacy of halacha with a LATER expansion. So now, I don't know what you're advocating. And, if mitzvot and aveirot have little to do with right and wrong, then why in the world do we need the entire halachic system? They very much define right and wrong; but not SOLELY and by themselves. I think that was Mialmi Al's well stated point. I certainly agree with JS that whether or not something is an aveira is not solely determinative; but it is the foundation or touchstone by which we at least orient ourselves. That is what is somewhat unique about Torah/halacha/morality as a complex whole. I used contracts as an example because they are the most basic form of adjucable human interaction. It is a very basic and broadly inclusive concept, really. As such, natural morality should certainly have something to say about it, and does. Yet not sufficiently so to ensure stable and well-functioning human intercourse. Hence my point about the limits of natural morality in human history; though not theoretically or ideally according to Rav Kook. As for 'lifnim m'shurat hadin, that concept of course applies to many circumstances that are not moral. Are you advocating that we always do more than what the halacha requires? I, for one, am not that sort of a pious individual; though I certainly want to be a moral individual. Yet, I don't think one can make a blanket advocacy for lifnim m'shurat hadin without recognizing that it applies to ALL areas of mitzvah and halacha, whether in relation to societal or 'religious' duties. Is that what you are promoting? In any case, I noted that I don't think this is the correct notion to advocate for a morality independent of Torah (which, again, I think exists).

My apologies for insufficient response.

Miami Al said...

Mordechai Y. Scher,

Looking at Torah on two levels shows you that Torah can teach morality, and be completely irrelevant to morality.

If you look at the simple text, you will see principles being listed that in general form the core of a moral society in the ancient middle east. With some caveats for areas you need to manage things differently in modern society, the general trend you see through Torah is doing things "better" than the surrounding world. The caveat is that today's surrounding world, in the west, is a generally moral society, so being "better" requires much more dedication. Being better than contemporary ethical people is harder than being more ethical than the Romans, that fed people to Lions, or more ethical than ancient Canaanite tribes, that sacrificed people to appease the gods.

On that level, you can combine Torah with Jewish philosophy to apply it to modern constructs, and derive a moral code. That is the core morality of the simple Jew.

On a legal level, we have a system of legal rules and legal fictions to enforce the rules. Like the court that bent over backwards to avoid a capital crime, Chazal implemented a system to make it nearly impossible for one to commit a serious Biblical Sin and be liable for punishment, since the punishment is often death.

Historically, the Jewish people were simple Jews with simple morality, with a small number of people focused on the legalisms and understanding and learning the law.

Total, we are teaching 12 year olds to pick apart legal reasoning, and declaring the basic words of Torah and it's morality "women's knowledge." Given the regard that things "for women" are held by the pre-teen and teenage mind, this makes it totally irrelevant.

So while I would agree with you that if you want a central Jewish morality, one can turn to Gd's Torah for guidance, the same is NOT true for the Yeshiva's Torah, which is completely devoid of morality.

This is NOT a knock on the Yeshiva, per se, the Yeshiva's Torah, Jewish Common Law is nor moral, it is not immoral, it is an amoral set of rules and regulations by which one judging the details of the action. There is certainly a place in society for knowing what the law demands.

However, obeying the letter of the law, and not a moral code, doesn't make one a good person, but it does keep you out of jail.

rosie said...

Whether or not yeshiva grads are morally superior than people with rudimentary Torah knowledge, they are generally more knowledgeable about the fundamentals of Judaism. If yeshivas disappear, than that level of knowledge disappears. In the past, only a small percentage of the frum population had that level of knowledge. Often that level of knowledge was kept for the ivory tower scholars and was not shared with the public. Many Jews hobbled through their Jewish lives with barely any knowledge which was not a problem in and of itself but transmitting the tradition and keeping Jews in the fold was a big challenge.
The fear here is if yeshivas must close if they can't sustain themselves, and fewer Jews end up in yeshivas, then eventually there will be widespread assimilation. Those who are concerned with always having some sort of Jewish people would rather see unpaid teachers than the disappearance of the Jewish people.
An older widow that I am friendly with remembers the days when the yeshiva would be late paying her husband. Remember, this was years ago, before every kallah got a diamond ring and $2500 sheital. She felt that the yeshiva heads fed their cats before breakfast, why couldn't her husband at least be that important? We have already established that Torah learning involves tremendous sacrifice, both from the student, his parents, and his teachers. The money does not exist to do it comfortably. Of course we could completely twist Torah morality in the other direction and try to encourage fewer Jewish births.

rosie said...

http://www.ou.org/torah/article/from_the_desk_of_rabbi_weil_elul_5770/
This article about business ethics appears on the OU site because this week the Torah discusses business ethics.
Rabbi Weil has a good explanation for the reason that frum Jews abandoned ethics. When Jews left Orthodoxy in droves to become Conservative and Reform, the stronghold of Orthodoxy had to define themselves in terms of Shabbos, Kashrus, and mikveh. Much of what now defined the Orthodox Jew was where he davened, his hat, her sleeve length, etc., in other words externals. When inquiring about a shidduch, one thing that is rarely asked is how ethical the family or single person is. We focus on their looks, money, and where they went to yeshiva. Eventually ethics became unimportant because these externals that defined the frum Jew had to be paid for.
THIS ARTICLE IS REQUIRED READING!
(rosie has spoken)

JS said...

Greater minds than my own have tried to tackle this issue. I'll give you my perspective.

I believe that there is a moral imperative that exists outside of Torah. As a simple example, it would be morally wrong to murder even if the Torah never forbade it. Thus, by not committing murder, I believe a person is doing two things: 1) he is obeying the commandment of his God (commonly referred to as doing a "mitzvah" - more on this later) and 2) he is acting as a moral person.

Note that I am not conflating the two. Doing a mitzvah does not make one a moral person - it is doing a moral act which makes one a moral person. Sometimes the two are the same, often they are not. To illustrate the point, wearing tzitzit or donning tifilin are not moral acts. They are amoral. However, they are fulfilling God's commandments and are thus "mitzvahs." However, it is mistaken in my view to consider a person who performs these types of amoral mitzvahs as a moral individual.

The moral imperative exists separate from the Torah, in that moral or immoral acts would still be such even if Torah did not exist. However, the idea of acting morally is sourced within the rubric of the Torah. I would argue that this external morality is most clearly sourced in the general injunctive "You shall be holy" (kedoshim tihiyu) and "You shall do the good and the upright in the eyes of God" (viasiteim hatov vihayashar...).

These two statements are two sides of the same coin. "Be holy" is a commandment to not engage in immoral activity simply because it is technically permitted - see Ramban on that verse (e.g., not being a glutton even though it is not forbidden by a commandment). "Do the good and the upright" is a commandment to actively engage in moral activity even though it is not technically commanded.

This is the concept of acting "lifnim mishurat hadin" - beyond the letter of the law. This does not mean doing more than we are commanded to do since this is inherently contradictory. It also doesn't mean doing a lot of what we are already commanded (e.g., extending shabbat to other days). Rather, it is the idea of extrapolating and interpolating within what we are already commanded and using our minds to tease out how to both "be holy" and "to do the good and the upright."

The story of King David taking Bat Sheva is an example of a moral failing for not following the injunctive to "be holy." David focused on legal technicalities and found that his planned actions were technically permissible. However, being holy requires us to go beyond this form of reasoning and consider whether such an act is also moral.

"Do the good and the upright" requires more of us than merely following the commandment to not oppress the widow or the orphan. It is not enough to leave them alone and not oppress them. We need to actively be kind to them and help them - we need to act morally.

The problem, I think, is that many of us are walking around with a kindergartner's understanding of mitzvah and aveira and in the process have lost the concept of morality. The kindergartner is taught to earn "mitzvah points" by doing what mommy and daddy tell the child to do. This conflates mitzvah/aveira with morality/immoraliy. And so, there are many adults still walking around looking for mitzvah points and refusing to engage in moral behavior because it's not technically a mitzvah.

Miami Al said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
JS said...

To rephrase and summarize my point, I think a problem in modern Orthodoxy (note the capitalization), can be summed up in a comment made in Rabbi Weil's article:

"Consider halachah, Jewish law; it is our directive for how to live our lives...To conduct business in a halachic manner, one must be very knowledgeable in Choshen Mishpat, and that requires diligent study."

Maybe you don't see the problem with these statements. Halacha is our directive for how to adhere to and keep God's commandments. It is NOT our directive for how to live our lives. Living our lives requires adhering to halacha AND morality. Yes, sometimes the two coincide, but it is not enough to be merely a "halachic Jew" one must also be a "moral Jew."

Thus, study of Chosen Mishpat is necessary for conducting business in a halachic manner, but it is not sufficient for conducting business in a moral manner. If you read the article, you will see that Rabbi Weil conflates halacha and morality to the point that they are one and the same and all one needs to do to be moral is follow halacha. This is a dangerous trend and leads to violation of the injunctions to "be holy" and "do the good and the upright."

rosie said...

JS, can we decide what is moral by what our society perceives as moral?
If so, forget about bris milah. Society now considers it genital mutilation of a minor.
Don't eat meat anymore either. PETA says it's immoral and they are probably right.

JS said...

I took this part out of my original comment, but I guess I'll put it back in.

The concept of morality, while existing external to the Torah, does not exist apart from it. The injunctive to be moral is found in the Torah itself, as we are commanded to "be holy" and "do the good and the upright."

There are times when we are commanded to do something which we may perceive to be immoral. For example, King Shaul was commanded to kill all of Amalek including nursing babies. He was rebuked by God through Shlomo for ignoring a commandment by following his moral code. Ultimately, a direct commandment supersedes our own moral conception. Or, more accurately, a commandment tells us how to resolve a moral dilemma (in the case of Amalek, the morality of taking revenge, for example, versus the morality of killing all animals and people).

This is distinct from a case where something is allowed under Torah law, but chafes against our concept of morality. For example, slavery is allowed by the Torah, but is not commanded. In such instances, our moral code may forbid something that is allowed, but not commanded, in the Torah. A classic example would be the rabbinic strictures placed on ever sentencing someone to the death penalty.

By now it should be clear that your question involves a case from each category.

Brit milah, circumcision, is a commandment. Thus, we are required to perform this ritual despite any questions about the morality of performing elective surgery on a baby.

Eating meat is merely something that is allowed. It is not a commandment. Thus, if someone has moral problems with eating meat, they are allowed to follow their moral code and not eat meat.

I hope this clarifies my point.

Not a Rabbi said...

Once again I am late to the conversation. I am happy to see Rabbi Solomon's answer. For those who don't know, he is the "mashgiach" of Lakewood, not the "Posek", which is why his advice ("psak") is the morally correct thing to do, much as we all said in the last post on the topic. Not paying is despicable even if the shulchan aruch says that no one has violated a torah prohibiition.

I guess my question is: is there any Lakewood Yeshiva that can say at the beginning of the year that we will have enough to pay everyone on time all year? My data says NO. They rely on the dinner, raffle campaign, etc - any of which can bring in less than expected or less than the prior year. Many rely on one or two deep pockets, and if they fail the yeshiva misses payroll. Is Rabbi Solomon suggesting that ALL such yeshivas close down? If so, and they listen to him, then the current Lakewood ideal (Kollel for everyone!) will be over (not that there is anything wrong with that.)

One last note to the commenter who compared it to eating bugs - one is not always forbidden to eat bugs. For example, a bug that is mashed up is OK, which is why even those who say the fish is treif agree than minced fish is fine. There is very little anywhere that is as black and white as some poeple make it out to be.

Miami Al said...

JS,

So you suggest that Frum Jews should be moral, upstanding American Jews that ALSO keep Commandments?

Heresy.

Frum Jews have no obligation to be moral OR upstanding, or even good Jews.

Just keep the commandments that define Frumkeit, after that, it's all Chumrot.

My wife has a Facebook "friend" from some pro-Israel group, he's always posting about learning, etc. He then posted a status update about not needing dinner since he got so many samples at a store, and that he was thanking the owners, even if it was kind of stealing.

She posted on his status, "some have a custom of not stealing" (apologies to whoever she borrowed that from here or elsewhere), to which he respondes, "and some don't."

A back and forth ensued, but he had no problems or compunctions posting that he's a thief and a Frum Jew.

But he has a regular time for learning.

Mark said...

rosie - The same mindset happens in shidduchim. The parent has to get their kid married so they may avoid giving information about psychiatric conditions so that they can accomplish that.

Rosie, this has nothing to do with RW or now. For example (MO, in this case), when I married my wife, neither family produced a medical report to the other family.

They may also have to appear to have more money than they actually do.

Heh, heh, in our case is was obvious that neither family had money. But that's usually the case, RW or not, for the most part, money marries money, and the remaining folks (middle class, poor, etc) marry each other.

Miami Al said...

Mark, Rosie,

I have a wealthy secular relative. His ENTIRE existence is about communicating more money than he has. While our parents were extremely modest, he is extremely flashy. He is flashy, because he uses that fact to impress women.

Expensive clothes, home, car, etc. His balance sheet would be much stronger if he saved some of that money, but he want to look impressive when he meets women.

It's not a RW thing, a Frum thing, a Jewish thing, or anything else.

It's a person thing.

Unlike Peacocks, we can't actually spread our feathers, so we fake it will wealth.

Anonymous said...

"Is Rabbi Solomon suggesting that ALL such yeshivas close down? If so, and they listen to him, then the current Lakewood ideal (Kollel for everyone!) will be over"

Not so! Kollel for "everyone" actually means Kollel for MEN. If all the schools are forced to shut down, then it will just mean Kollel for MEN and BOYS.

LOL

Miami Al said...

Not a Rabbi asked, "Is Rabbi Solomon suggesting that ALL such yeshivas close down? If so, and they listen to him, then the current Lakewood ideal (Kollel for everyone!) will be over"

No, he's suggesting that if asked, he'll tell non-viable schools to shut down. That means that they should become viable.

This might mean cutting staff, cutting pay, downsizing facilities, or cutting money losing students. You might WANT to educate EVERYONE, but you should only educate the ones you can afford to teach.

A little economic discipline could fix the problems pretty fast.

Now, some people might not like the end result, but it would be sustainable.

rosie said...

mark, in regard to shidduchim, under normal circumstances no one produces a medical report. There have been stories in the RW community of people who concealed serious mental disorders and these were not revealed until after the wedding. In many of these cases, the marriage was immediately ended because of the misrepresentation. Many heredim marry after seeing the person only once or twice and they rely on the parents doing research. It is easy for "fraud" to occur here. There are also stories of people who want to marry so they claim to be able to support a son-in-law while he learns. They hide the truth until after the wedding, hoping that the couple will stay married. This is also fraud.

Miami Al said...

Rosie,

Yet you refer to them at Heredim, NOT fraudulent con artists masquerading as Heredim.

If instead of lying in a business transaction, you found out they lied about keeping Kosher, I suspect your words would be different.

Mark said...

Rosie - in regard to shidduchim, under normal circumstances no one produces a medical report.

However I do strongly support Dor Yesharim. I think it's an excellent idea for everyone. It didn't exist in my time, but my wife and I did undergo the required tests in Israel, and my brother (who isn't married yet) has a DY file.

There have been stories in the RW community of people who concealed serious mental disorders and these were not revealed until after the wedding. In many of these cases, the marriage was immediately ended because of the misrepresentation.

This is a big a problem when there is minimal contact before the wedding. What bothers me much more are cases of people having problems with potential shidduchim from families that have siblings/cousins with random illnesses.

Many heredim marry after seeing the person only once or twice and they rely on the parents doing research. It is easy for "fraud" to occur here. There are also stories of people who want to marry so they claim to be able to support a son-in-law while he learns. They hide the truth until after the wedding, hoping that the couple will stay married. This is also fraud.

Since I completely disagree with supporting sons-in-law, I consider the whole system built around it to be a "fraud". In my opinion, a man is ready to get married when he can support a family (or is on the path to be able to support a family) and not a day earlier.

rosie said...

Al,
There are a lot of things that people who are called heredim do behind closed doors. I don't know another name for them. If a guy shows up with a shtreimel and white socks and payos and long beard, I assume that he is heredi, at least in broad daylight.
Rabbi Weil assumes that most heredim have shady business practices. He attributes it to emphasis on more external mitzvahs but it is probably also due to insularity and coming from countries where Jews had to make a living on the black market. Some of it may also be due to a history of deprivation and the high cost of frum living. He does not even give lip service to disclaimers that sheishters are in the minority.

Anonymous said...

Orthonomics,

How can I contact you via email?

Anonymous said...

orthonomics at gmail dot com

(No time to sign it--it's me)

Mike S. said...

There are certain costs to being frum that are inherent to the religion. But much of the "high cost of frum living" is not. Yes, one has to provide a Jewish education, and whether that involves yeshivah, day school, private tutor or a parent taking the time to homeschool, either all or in part, that is a cost. And certain foods must be prepared under the supervision of mashgichim and bodekim who have to get paid. But much of the cost of 'frum living' whether in the MO communities or the Chareidi communities is social pressure to keep up with the Jones's. Nothing in the Torah requires Italian felt hats, eating meat every day, living in ritzy suburbs, making weddings that include catered meals for hundreds of people, fancy summer camps, second homes in Israel, hotels for Pesach or any of the rest of that. All of that is fine for those who can afford it; those who can't have to learn not to try to emulate these behaviors. It would be good if the rabbis could make and enforce takkanos like they did about fancy funerals in the days of the Tannaim, but they can't, so people will have to show some backbone. That is the real problem with frum society; the devaluation of individual initiative and responsibility in favor of social conformity.

What I find scary is that someone who considers himself qualified to run a yeshivah doesn't consider that it is obvious that he has to close if he can't pay his staff, but needs to ask another rabbi.

Don't judge a man until... said...

Mike S:

You were doing fine until your last paragraph.

The exec dir of this yeshiva is 4 months behind in pay. He realizes that things won't get better without some 'daddy deep pockets' showing up. He knows that at the start of the year he will do OK making payroll, but sooner or later some parents will miss some tuition payments and the late paychecks will start again. So he decides he should quit, which means the yeshiva closes and 350 kids - incuding many from families who DO pay tuition on time - now have no where to go. Furthermore, the Rabbeim will not have any job, and even a job that pays 8 months out of 12 may be better than none at all. So quitting and closing is one huge responsibility that he is not sure is the right one. So he asks the "mashgiach" if he can quit and the mashgach says "yes". And you think it is scary that he asked?? Sorry, but I don't.

Of course we can argue about why he came to this question in August and not June, and then we can argue about how much waste there was in the Yeshiva, and we can then argue about a whole bunch of other things that none of us know what we are talking about; but about getting the 'go ahead' from an impartial talmid chochom abut a decision that will affect so many people in this insular community? I've got no problem with that at all.

Mike S. said...

Well,

if the situation was that he was always up to date, but had a one time budget issue, presumably there were less drastic ways to address this. And if, in fact, the rebbeim thought 2/3rds the pay was better than being out of work, presumably the administrator and the rebbeim could have agreed to a deal that would have kept the school open. So I have to assume that the financial picture was more grave than you make it sound.

On the other hand, if what happened was a sudden reversal of fortune (for example the big donor who covered the deficit in the past went bankrupt) that the head of the yeshiva tried to fix over the summer but failed, than I must indeed apologize, and give the man credit for acting quickly.