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Sunday, September 18, 2011

A Tribute? "I Wondered Whether This Was the End of His Generosity to Me"

Jewish Worker comments on a Hamodia story on the passing of a tzadik and a troubling aspect highlighted therein, the departure from what is written so clearly in birchat hamazon: please do not make us dependent upon the gifts or loans of flesh and blood.

Yet here the story of a generous tzadik who provided money for those who could not afford tefillin for a Bar Mitzvah is retold by his chavruta as follows:

"When Reb Shlomo oldest son was approaching Bar Mitzva Reb Shlomo had no money to buy him tefillin. A few months before the Bar Mitzva Reb Nosson gave him an envelope full of cash, enough to buy the best teffilin.

The next year was his second son's bar mitzva and again he had no money for tefilin. "I had no idea whether Reb Nosson's generosity would repeat itself this time around and with little alternative I waited to see what would happen. And in fact a few months before the bar mitzva the same scenario reoccurred. The story repeated itself four more times."

When my fifth son's bar mitzva was approaching Reb Nosson had already taken ill and hardly came to Yeshiva. I wondered whether this was the end of his generosity to me. After all out of sight means out of mind, didn't it?

Well it didn't. . . "

There is something particularly off putting not just of the expectation to receive tzedakah, but of focusing on whether or not the tzedakah would repeat itself while a man lays on his death bed.

Sometimes I wonder how some things get across the editor's desk. This hardly seems a tribute to the man who has passed on. And the person telling his story. . . . well, would you want to tell this story about yourself?




23 comments:

Anonymous said...

This may not have been worded as well as it could, but read with the understanding that the writer was trying to explain the depth of this man's generosity and thoughtfulness and was humble enought to admit his own material concerns in contrast to those of an ill man who focused on the needs of others, I think this is a fine tribute. Also, while I am the first to promote self-sufficiency and living simply, we do not know this man's circumstances and why he could not provide for his own children after deciding to have several. Maybe he became disabled after having chldren? Maybe he is a widower?

Miami Al said...

Well, it sounds like he was a wonderful Tzaddik, doing good deeds for the impoverished children of self centered man-childs that do not make an effort to take care of their children or their friends.

Time goes fast, child one could have caught him unprepared, but the second time with "no alternative" is pathetic. That said, the fifth time story is disgusting.

The author of this story couldn't figure out how to man up and take care of his children, nor manage to visit his sick friend (and not be out of sight), which is truly pathetic. I'm sure he's learned all the halachot about visiting the sick, yet somehow, he couldn't even visit his friend and benefactor...

Anonymous said...

Most charedi rabbis who have embraced daas torah have also embraced poverty.

Charedi judaism has become increasingly dysfunctional.

Anonymous said...

Al: You don't know why he did not visit. I have had elderly relatives who, during their last illness, only wanted family (i.e. didn't want others to see them that way).

Also, this man may have been living exactly the lifestyle that this Rav wanted his followers to live -- no secular education, study all day and have has as many children as possible.

Mark said...

Also, this man may have been living exactly the lifestyle that this Rav wanted his followers to live -- no secular education, study all day and have has as many children as possible

Who cares what the Rav wanted? We Jews do what God wants (as interpreted by Chazal and the Rishonim), not what some random Rav wants.

"חייב אדם ללמד את בנו אומנות" TB Kiddushin

"אח"כ (אחרי התפילה) ילך לעסקיו שכל תורה שאין עימה מלאכה סופה בטלה וגוררת עוון..." - S"A O"C


כל המשים על לבו שיעסוק בתורה ולא יעשה מלאכה ויתפרנס מן הצדקה הרי" זה חלל את השם ובזה את התורה וכבה מאור הדת וגרם רעה לעצמו ונטל חייו מן העולם הבא. לפי שאסור ליהנות מדברי תורה בעולם הזה. אמרו חכמים כל הנהנה מדברי תורה נטל חייו מן העולם. ועוד צוו ואמרו אל תעשם עטרה להתגדל בהן ולא קרדום לחפור בהן. ועוד צוו ואמרו אהוב את המלאכה ושנא את הרבנות וכל תורה שאין עמה מלאכה סופה בטילה וגוררת עון. וסוף אדם זה שיהא מלסטם את הבריות" - Rambam M"T Hilchos Talmud Torah

bluke said...

Anonymous,

It is quite clear from reading the story that Reb Shlomo didn't have money to buy his sons tefillin by choice. He sat and learned and therefore was poor.

Anonymous said...

As much as I dislike this lifestyle, in many ways I also feel sorry for these men. They are indoctrinated from birth that the best thing is to sit and learn, they have little or no secular education or job training (let alone college or vocational school) , they are pushed into marrying young and having as many children as possible. When you wake up one day with two, three, five or more mouths to feed and rent/mortgage (not to mention teffilin for bar mitzvah boys) and have no marketable skills, it is hard to see a way out. Taking on low wage work in whatever job you can find is noble, but may seem pointless to these men since they still will need to rely on tzedakkah to buy the necessities. And so it goes on because soon these bar mitzvah boys will have children of their own without having seen any working men as role models.

JS said...

Translation of Mark's post for those interested:

"A man is required to teach his son a trade" TB Kiddushin

"After davening in the morning a man should go to his job because all Torah that is not accompanied by work will end up being null and void and will lead to iniquity." - S"A O"C

"Anyone that sets out to toil in Torah without doing any other work such that his salary is acquired by tzedaka, this is a desecration of God's name and is scornful of the Torah and he has caused the light of faith to dim and has caused evil to himself as well as removed himself from the World to Come. Because it is forbidden to enjoy the fruits of Torah study in this world. Our sages said, "All who enjoy the fruits of Torah study [in this world] remove themselves from the World [to Come]. They additionally said and commanded, "[Don't use Torah study for your own ends]: Don't use it as a crown to make yourself important or as a pickaxe to dig with." They also said and commanded, "Love work and despise power/respect. All Torah that is not accompanied by work will end up being null and void and cause one to be iniquitous. Such a person will end up stealing from his fellow man." - Rambam M"T Hilchos Talmud Torah

JS said...

What boggles my mind is why money for the finest pair of tefillin? Why not a decent pair of tefillin and the rest of the money for food and shelter?

megapixel said...

this guy had a friend who had a job as an accountant, and one day he sees him in shul, collecting. He says to him, why are you shnorring, you have a good job?
The friend tells him that he doesnt like being dependent on his boss for his salary, he'd rather be his own boss and come and go...

sam said...

It's really terrible out there. I am trying to convince my daughters to take a working man for a husband but they won't listen. Not much imcan do as all their friends do the same.

Anonymous said...

Sam: Not easy to do, but you can tell her you won't pay for the wedding or anything else. Or, before marriage let her try a to live for a year on what her budget (without help) will be if she marries a learner and makes sure she puts enough aside for diapers, baby food, strollers, child care, shoes for 5 little ones, dentitsts, etc. and live only on the remainder. You have to let your children live their own lives, but you don't have to fund it once they are adults. Although if you sent her to schools where this preference was taught, it may not be appropriate to cut her off, at least before the wedding.

rosie said...

unless you agree to a certain amount of support per month, a learning boy will not agree to the shidduch. Some parents feel that if they pay their daughter's way through college, that is the same as kollel support. It is whatever the boy and his family will accept.

Anonymous said...

Rosie - are you saying that they skip college and pay the couple what college would have cost, or the girl goes to college and lives off what the parents would have paid for her room and board and living expenses for 4 years of college?

rosie said...

The parents feel that if they pay for 4 years of college, the daughter can support the couple so the parents don't have to pledge kollel support.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the clarification, Rosie. That makes more sense. Cnce the daughter is out of college she can make her own decisions and if she wants to be the sole breadwinner working 24/6 while bearing most of the child care/household responsibilities, that is her choice. That is different from planning to live off of tzedakkah/parents and/or government benefits. (Although we all know that for many families, it takes two working parents to pay for tuition.)

Mark said...

JS - What boggles my mind is why money for the finest pair of tefillin? Why not a decent pair of tefillin and the rest of the money for food and shelter?

For the same reason you need to have a $40,000 wedding. Or a $4,000 wedding gown. Or a makeup artist for $500. Or tuxedos rented at $100 per. Or an engagement ring. Or a chosson watch and a chosson shas. Or a Yichud room gift. Or fancy lechter (shabbat candlesticks). Or a set of Lenox china. Or silver flatware. Or a Ragazzi bedroom for the baby. And for the next baby. Or an Uppababy stroller. Or a Borsalino hat. Or a shtreimel (for Chassidim). An atara. A house in the right neighborhood, 5 years in kollel, etc.

I call it "pious gashmiyut". That's the thing that takes the place of real piety (or at least stands besides it) in modern frumkeit. Not one of these things are required to be a good Jew, yet they've almost all have become de riguer for frum Jews (most of them anyway).

Zach Kessin said...

It's really terrible out there. I am trying to convince my daughters to take a working man for a husband but they won't listen. Not much imcan do as all their friends do the same

Sam there is a wonderful word you should learn... no. Ok you can't stop them, but you don't have to pay for it. Say you won't and stick to it.

Tell them a real man supports his own wife and children.

Anonymous said...

Learning is great, but demanding money for it and/or not having a plan isn't. Tell your daughter to work for 2-3 years, save her money, and marry a guy with a plan.(The plan has to be real, not, oh, one day I'll work. He can have a college degree, a part-time job, etc.) Then your soninlaw can learn for a while. For all you critics out there, that's what I did, my husband learned, I worked, then he went to work when he had to and we got by b/c we both had savings. No kollel checks, no inlaw handouts. Yes, it was tough and is tough now b/c we didn't have a great financial start. But we chose to make that sacrifice, and didn't ask anyone else to pay for it. I think the kollel lifestyle is great AS LONG AS the people involved realize they should pay for their own madness.

AztecQueen2000 said...

Ein kemach, ein Torah. (Pirkei Avos)
If the Chofetz Chaim could run a store; if Maimonides could be a doctor traveling throughout Northern Africa (centuries before both the car and the airplane); if Rashi could sell wine; can't these "learning boys" (who are grown men with families) get job and support their families? Then they can buy their own tefillin for their sons.

David said...

It says in the ketuba that the man has an obligation to support his wife. By having only the wife working is that not a breach of the ketuba?

shmichelfoofer said...

that is not the only breach of kesubah in todays day...

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