Opinion: Don’t Even Know Where to Begin

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yeshiva-toras-chaim-miamiBy Kollel Guy

I received a letter from a concerned aunt of a 30-year-old yungerman. She wrote:

How is a young man of 30 to leave kollel when all he can do is work in a very menial job, when he has little English skills, a bit of arithmetic, and no experience in dealing with anyone but the frum velt? He is terribly unprepared. Is there a place where men can get job training? And remedial English? And advice on how to write a resume? And encouragement from professionals who have gone the same route? Not everyone has your English background. My nephews went to a chassidishe cheder. What are they prepared for?

Sounds discouraging, no? Really, what should he do?

If there was an easy answer to this problem, I’m sure you would know it already. Of course it isn’t easy, but it is doable. The truth is, there is help and options available even to a young man like this.

Our grandfathers came from Europe to America 70 or more years ago, with just the clothes on their backs and a limited knowledge of English. Many of them struggled to provide a livelihood for their families, and took on menial, backbreaking jobs just so they could have a roof over their heads and some food for their families. Over time, these menial laborers, who did janitorial work for nursing homes, became the owners of nursing homes. Some of the apartment building supers became the owners of those apartment buildings.

There are no exact directions on how to succeed in business. If there were, everyone would be rich. But someone who devotes himself to learning most likely has an above average intelligence, a savvy way of thinking, and is full of great ideas. This intelligence and creativity, coupled with a strong drive, are the qualities that made our grandfathers rich back then. They can be put to work again, with the same results – over time.

{Kollel Guy/Matzav.com Newscenter}


  1. Back then, the entire mentality was different. People came from Europe after going through Auschwitz, and the thought of only having bread to eat some days because they couldn’t afford any more was actually a step up from what many were used to. Imagine telling someone today that they’ll have to make do with bread and water, no air conditioning in the summer, little heat in the winter, etc. to keep costs down. They’d laugh at you!
    Basic expenses today are also much higher. Tuition tops that list, but other expenses also went way up. 30 years ago, you could buy a nice house for about 5 times your annual salary (and that was with only the husband working, not the wife!) Now, a house can easily cost 10 times your salary. Rents have also gone up accordingly.
    Things are very different than they were back then.

  2. the generation of our grandfathers is absolutely no comparison.Much less skill was required and the technological world was much smaller thus giving the plain Joe w/o any education more of a chance to get a job last generation didn’t have the opportunity a lot of us are squandering

  3. What are you trying to accomplish by your response to this great question. Telling stories about history does not practically help this situation? Yes, many people get through it, but how, with what help? Please offer some concrete advice, if anyone knows of any.
    Resume: Most people have a friend or relative in the business or english writing world, so ask them for help with resume. At first, the resume will look whimpy, but throw in the kitchen sink of experiences, such as organizational skills, leadership, gabbais or if you gave a chabburra then you have some teaching skills and mentoring skills. Have everyone you know review and revise your resume, then see the Aguda PCS office and the bnew Parnassa Initiative. But more importantly, tell everyone you know that you are looking for a job. Try to narrow a bit, bertter than just saying: “Anything” would be fine. Hatzlacha Rabba.
    Every reader can post one practical advice. Hatzlacha rabba

  4. Good article. One point though.
    It would be a chesed for those close to this yungerman to point him to the resources where he can get training, or resume writing help, etc. Some organizations give courses for beginners going into business.
    Call PCS in Lakewood. they have a 4 month course geared for these type of situations.

  5. Your advice to “Where to Find a Great Job” is so far off base that it borders on being mazik the rabim

    our grandparents struggled to work, make a parnasa & accumulate wealth so that we can enjoy the fruits of their labor .. a little financial security, time for leisure activities & learning and to become ovdei hashem in a free land

    your advice will result in a return to the poverty and darkness of yesteryear

    It is not a mitzvah to be uneducated & barely to be able to read, write & do simple arithmetic
    It is not a mitzvah to be poor & on welfare
    It is not a mitzvah to be constantly under financial duress
    It is not a mitzvah to constantly deal with shalom bayis issues due to lack of funds

  6. Yes, when are grandfathers came over they lacked a formal english education and even knowledge of basic arithmatic and sciences and some of them succeeded by din of theur wits and unimanginable stamina – importantly they lived and worked in a society of immigrants – the same experience was had by many Italian and other Europeans when they came over.
    Some of them were succesful financially and yes some went on to became the owners of nursing homes. Some of them became the owners of those apartment buildings. But many didnt become succesful.
    What you are missing is that while they sacrificed they made sure there children would not have to go through the same experience they did and what they did was to make sure there children got a solid well rounded education.
    They became doctors, lawyers, accountants and thus earned the ability to give their children the same gift bthey had from their parents.

  7. i personally know lots of people out there, and i’m sure all of you reading this know some of them as well, who went through the same system that most yeshivah guys go through, and none the less they are still very much successful today. i am not saying that this yungerman’s “aunt” needn’t, worry but, i don’t think she should loose sleep over it…she should just stick to her tehillim, and let g-d take care of the rest.

  8. Kollel Guy
    a) the grandfathers started working as soon as they got married.
    b) the working world and business realities are very different than back in the day.
    c) they may have had smaller families.
    d) one could support a family honorably on a lot less. Not just that people lived more modestly, but if you add tuition, some day camp, post high school education for boys and girls, and support for married children…
    well, over the next ten years the nephew’s gonna be dealing with a lot, and saving over those years will be impossible.

    I have to stop now, but I’ll be happy to let others continue the list.

  9. Maybe that’s why the women today are the breadwinners for the family. Educated, intelligent, social, and capable of handling responsibility, they can enter the working world and hold down a steady job with relative ease….

  10. Back then the backbreaking labor you describe actually did put a roof over people’s heads. Today, these jobs pay $8 an hour and do not put a roof over anybody’s head.

  11. It’s called “planning ahead”…..if the attitude is that limudei chol is not important & professional degrees are verboten – or you don’t have the skill sets to set out in your own business, then you’re going to be stuck in the cashier/burger-flipping pay range. This needs to be thought about in advance, not the week when all the bills become overwhelming.

  12. The problem described in the article
    is a direct consequence of a misguided

    The “Torah-only” approach is not
    meant for the masses.

    Those who preach the above without
    prescribing the obligation of engaging
    in “Derekh Eretz”—defined as pursuit
    of an occupation or profession for the
    sake of making a living–are culpable
    of “apikorsus”.

  13. In my many years of hiring for my Information Technology department at a major brokerage firm, we would have openings for training positions. These positions typically started salaries at $45,000 (about 10 years ago) and had a fast-track of raises to pay a person $70,000 within 2 years. There was also a yearly bonusses. Quite a few kolel people or former rebeiim were hired since they are usually bright and catch on quickly. Also, the starting pay plus benefits was almost always more than they made before.

    I am not saying that there is an abundance of these jobs available especially not in today’s environment. But it amazes me when I see people questioning how it’s possible for a yungerman to get a decent job.

    What I am bringing up is not even Ness it’s Teva. Certainly a person who puts his bitochon in HKB”H will see success.

    I have a relative who was a great proponent of college and insisted that I must attend or would never amount to anything. I never did attend, and he NEVER USED HIS COLLEGE SCHOOLING, as he went into diamond sales! In all the years of hiring I never cared for the college or training credentials of a candidate; I just wanted to be comfortable that he/she could do what I needed. If I needed an experienced person I hired one but there were quite a few entry level positions. In the first few weeks on the job a person learns 10 times as much as they learned in school – just add up the amount of hours – and it’s in the real world, not the world of academia. I had a staff of over 120 people and they were all excellent, dedicated professionals, many frum, many of those had learned in kolel prior to my hiring them. Other departments in the company had similar experiences.

  14. Try a few get rich quick schemes.
    If you are really successful, you’ll live till 150 years (in the slammer).

    If you don’t succeed, they’ll announce at the Levayah that everyone has to be moichel the niftar’s chovos.

    It’s a win win situation.





  16. I am sort of wondering about the aunt. Did I make my aunt’s worry about me while I was in Kollel. Should I apologize to them? Where my parents worried too? Sorry for being off topic- got to get back to work now.

  17. Bottom line is today’s kollel lifestyle is financially unsustainable over any significant time and we should have the courage to say so, otherwise we’ll see many more letters such as this in the future. Where was this aunt for the past 30 years? Did she and this yungerman think money grows on trees? were they misled into thinking this by the estblishment?
    These are real hard questions that few have the courage to ask openly.
    And for the author… Our grandfathers were PROUD to work all day to support their families, your posts are disdainful for those who work and are full of feelings of superiroity toward them. You reap what you sow..

  18. I also was a lakewood yungerman who left yeshiva, i became an English teacher and started my own company which is bH doing fine, just hut bitachon, be honest, be mispallel and hashem takes care of the rest, he’ll be fine if he’s not lay, there are sooooo many opportunities out there, he just has to want

  19. Robbing people of education is still Genaiva! Poverty creates Jews who distance them selves from Torah, How many Jews did we loose after WW2? Many were sick of the poverty and lack of food on the table. Suggesting that people be smart so they can bypass education is insane. I hope that no one takes this advice it is not good. As a person who left Yeshiva with no education, I can truly say that a little more time spent becoming educated would have made a world of difference. Leaving my family to go to night school was Gehenom. People should not fool them selves there is value in secular education Of corse one should invest in Torah, but it should be Torah IM Malachah. Chazal them selves say this is the Derech. Our parnasa today requires education the days of manual labor are long gone. Tuition is not getting cheaper. People deserve the right leehov es hamalacha and not to do things that are beneath their true abilities.

  20. Just spoke to a Chassidishe high 20’s. He didn’t speak any English. First he took a 6 month course in English. Then he went to one of the frum colleges (Cope/Touro). Now 2-3 years later he is going for his CPA bar exam.

  21. I know people who are hiring-but they are looking for something that does not exist today-people willing to work hard, schlep, be responsible-nowadays people walk in-I want 80K and to be a manager-what do you know, what have you done-well I have a frum family and I need at least 80K-100K-nice but that does not cut it in business world-if you are willing to work hard, schlep, show you can learn and run construction maybe send me a resume….

  22. I think maybe this AUNT should stick her nose out of other people’s business. Let her bring up her kids; her siblings can bring up their own kids by themselves. Unless there is suspicion of abuse (physical or otherwise) STAY OUT!!

  23. The standard of livelihood required is bare minimum. “Kach hi darkah shel torah – pas b’melach tochal etc.” – Bread, salt and water – if you have that, you have parnasah. The Rambam writes that a typical Baal Habayis works 3 hours a day and learns 8.

    The Rama 246:4 rules explicitly that it is absolutely prohibited according to Halachah to engage in a curriculum of secular studies. To read secular studies now and then is permitted, he says. The source of the Rama is the Yerushalmi Sanhedrin.

    It has been suggested the difference between a curriculum and just a glance is that this prohibition is not due to Bitul Torah but rather a Bizayon HaTorah, by establishing studies in areas other than Torah, it shows that you believe they have some value that would justify learning them when you could have been learning Torah.

    Rav Shimon Schwab ZT’L sought the Torah opinions of two great authorities, Rav Boruch Ber Liebowitz ZT’L and Rav Elchonon Wasserman ZT’L, regarding college education. Their responses were as follows:

    Conclusion of Birkas Shmuel (Kiddushin #27 p. 42):

    “What emerges is (a) that according to the Torah the obligation of Banim Ubeni Banim means you must make your children into Geonei and Chachmei Torah – and not merely to prepare them for life as a Jew. But rather, you must teach them and get them to learn the entire Torah, and if chas v’sholom you do not, you violate the entire Mitzvah of learning Torah as per Banim Ubnei Banim.
    (b) Universities and gymnasiums (i.e. secondary schools) are prohibited because of Apikursus [that they teach]. My Rebbi (i.e. Rav Chaim Soloveichik ZT’L) prohibited them even in war time, and even to save a life, for to avoid violating this, even a Jewish life is to be spent. (c) To learn secular studies on a regular basis is prohibited, as per the Rama 246:4 … Brothers, please do Teshuva while there is still time, for the enlightenment (Haskalah) has blinded our eyes and weakened us. For we have no benefit in this world at all – both spiritually and physically – except from Torah. All the strength of Klall Yisroel is from the Torah … we should do Tehsuva and repair the Batei Medrashos that have been broken by the Enlightenment.”

    Kovetz Shiurim II:47:

    Question: Under what circumstances is it permitted to learn secular studies?
    Answer: (a) If you must learn books that contain apikursus, it is prohibited … needless to say even to make money or to prevent a loss thereof. (b) If you must sit in school with Goyim, and it causes someone to befriend the Goyim and their ways, it is prohibited as per the Lo Saseh of Hishomer Lecha etc. for the Torah commanded us to distance ourselves from the Goyim in every way…
    (c) If the studies do not cause you to learn Apikursus or to befriend Goyim, and you learn secular studies in order to know a skill to make a living, it is permitted, and it is a Mitzvah. However, this is only in general. But if a person sees that his son wants to learn Torah and he is prepared to be a Gadol B’Torah, in such a case R. Nehuray said: “I will forgo all skills in the world and teach my son only Torah.”… (d) If you don’t need the studies for Parnasa, and you just want to be involved in them, there is reason to prohibit because of Bitul Torah, as per the Rama in YD 246, who writes that it is forbidden to learn secular studies on a regular basis….perhaps it is not due to Bitul Torah but rather it ia an affront to the honor of the Torah … someone who set out to learn secular subjects indicates that he believes that they have a purpose in and of themselves [besides for parnasa], and that is against the Torah’s opinion. [see above]…”

    Reb Elchonon continues, saying that the confusion in Germany happened when people thought, mistakenly, that by Jews possessing secular knowledge the Goyim will hate them less. This caused a “negiyos” – a vested interest – that caused the German Jews to desire that their rabbis have a secular education as well.

    Rav Moshe Feinstein ZT’L also denounced college in a Teshuva, and in a famous speech delivered to his students, published under the title “The Counsel of the Wicked” (Vaad LeHaromas Keren HaTorah, New York, 1978). There he reiterates that everyone has an obligation to become great in Torah, we should not care so much about Cadillac’s (yes, this was said in the “olden days”), and that learning Torah is what we should be pursuing, not secular stuff. He says in America you do not need college to make a Parnassa, and we should be willing to live on little, not a lot, for the sake of Torah, and that R. Nehuray’s statement of abandoning all skills in favor of Torah applies all that more today that we live in a country where you can make a parnassa without college, with no miracles needed.

    There is a tape available in many Seforim stores called “The prohibition to learn in Colleges” (Yiddish), which contains addresses by Rav Moshe Feinstein ZT’L and Rav Aharon Kotler ZT’L condemning college.

    Regarding High School, the only reasons it is allowed is either because education is mandated by State Law (in New York it is until age 17), or simply because if they did not have High School education in the Yeshivas, parents would simply send their kids to worse places to get it.

    But it is definitely looked upon not as a l’chatchilah, but rather as something that is annoyingly necessary in the current environment.

    Today, there are a small number of High Schools in America – particularly in Lakewood – that do not teach English. Also, many Yeshivos do try to reduce the amount of secular studies as much as possible, through knocking out the last semester of English, and a number of kids are leaving HS early to enter Bais Medrash.

    Rav Chaim Segal ZT’L, the Menahel of the High School at Yeshiva Chaim Berlin was once told by Rav Shach ZT’L that if possible, he should not be teaching English studies. In Eretz Yisroel, almost all Chareidi Yeshivos do not have English at that age. Rav Aharon Kotler ZT’L made some kind of commitment not to allow English studies on the HS level in Lakewood. The exact details, and if this was actually a Takanah or merely a preference, is not clear and depends who you ask. In any case, Rabbi Elya Svei, Rosh Yeshiva of Philadelphia and a student of Rav Aharon’s, was asked why he allows English in Philly if Rav Aharon was against it. What difference can there be between the town of Lakewood NJ and Philadelphia PA? Reb Elya answered that he has no choice, and that currently, the Baalei Batim would not send their kids to the Yeshiva except under these circumstances.

    Is any of this the ideal? No. It is not. Is it justified? The schools say it is, as they have no choice. But the point is not what the Jews do, its what Judaism wants. Everyone agrees that it would be a higher level, a preferable situation if we would indeed not learn English even at the HS level, at least not beyond what is necessary to survive. Nobody claims it is an ideal.

    The Chasam Sofer in Parsha Beshalach states clearly that certain secular knowledge is useful for learning certain Torah topics, such as cow anatomy being useful for shechitah, and arithmetic for Eruvin and Sukkah. But that before we embark on obtaining secular knowledge – and of course that means only to the extent that it is useful for our Torah studies – we must first fill ourselves with Torah-only knowledge. After we are strong in Torah, only then can we move to acquire the useful secular knowledge that we need for our Torah studies.

    He quotes the Rambam, who he describes as “the father of philosophy” in our religion, in Hilchos Yesodei HaTorah, stating that a person may not learn philosophy until after he has “filled his stomach” with Shas and Poskim, which are the things, and only the things, that bring us Olam Habah. Then he quotes the Rashba, saying that there is a cherem against learning any secular studies if you are under age 25! The he quotes the Gemora in Brachos “Keep your children away from science” (higayon, as some meforshim translate it), noting that the Gemora is directing its prohibition at “your children”, but not at the adults, for adults, who are already advanced in Torah knowledge, need some secular knowledge, such as cow biology (I keep emphasizing that so that we do not make the error of thinking that the secular knowledge that we need is a college education). But it is dangerous for us to pursue it until we are armed and ready with a Torah foundation. This is because someone with a Torah perspective looks at the value and culture of of secular studies differently than does someone ignorant of Torah. And we do want to get the proper perspective.

    It’s kind of like firemen putting out a fire. They have to (a) dress in their heat-resistant protective outfits, and (b) run into the fire and put it out. But of course, they have to do it in the right order.

    And that is indeed what it boils down to – do we value the Torah’s standards of education more than that of the secular world or vice versa? The choice is simple: All the secular “education” that you get will be useless to you in the next world. There, they will not ask you if you know how many US presidents were re-elected in history, or whether you are familiar with the policies of Chairman Mao, or if you know how to program a computer. They will bring a Sefer Torah scroll to you and ask “do you know what it says in here?” The more you know of that, the more you will be considered “educated”. The less you know, the more you will be considered ignorant. So the question is – do I want to be educated on this world or on the next?

    And please note, there is no minimum threshold for the amount of Torah you are obligated to know. The rule is: more is better; less is worse. And the difference between just a little more and a little less is staggering. As the Vilna Gaon points out, one word of Torah knowledge gives you more holiness than an entire lifetime’s worth of doing other Mitzvos.

    And here we thought that a secular education is expensive! It’s much more expensive than you think – you can acquire it only at the expense of your time and effort that you could have been putting toward becoming educated in Olam Habah.

    Two things, though. First, the prohibition is only to learn secular studies as a regular curriculum. Second, to read about them occasionally in your spare time is permitted.

  24. this is what happens when boys are advised to marry rich.
    Where are they getting this hashkofoh from?
    and these poor boys dont know better.


  26. to # 19,
    What you detailed is the exception rather than the rule. Yes, there are jobs out there that require no prior higher education (but do require minimum levels which it sounds like some are not even getting), but they are very few and are getting less and less by the day. I also don’t know what amazes you, while you may know of 10 jubs that may open up each year, there may be hundreds of yungerman who start to look jobs and I doubt there are hundreds of these types of jobs availbale. Nowadays, even for entry level positions a college degree is needed for what used to require a high school diploma. I would also not say that your relative never used his college schooling. College is more than memorizing the information that the professor wants you to. It includes amongs other things time management skills learned, research skills, inter-personal skills. NYS increased the requirements to sit for the CPA exam, not because they thought the extra few accounting courses would help, but rather because they felt students were not coming prepared enough with the right skills set to work in a professional industry. College is not a job training program, college is a skills training along with knowledge earning.

  27. I think this whole letter is way off. Parnasa comes from hashem, period. Look at the world and you will see it makes no sense whatsoever that you have frum or chasidishe multimillionaires who can barely speak English. They don’t even dress up real spiffy for corporate meetings to impress clients but they’re rolling in money. And look at the fact that Jewish people make much more than the average citizen. All a person needs is siata dishmaya and the willingness to work hard. Not everyone is destined to be rich but even in these times if you want to work in whatever field you can make it. For 30 years they’ve been saying the Kollel system is going to fail but BH it is being sustained. Yes some people can’t afford it and for those people it’s time to get out there and get a job.

  28. 19, good story, but that entry level pay is nowhere near enough for the 30 y.o with a few kids (and even 75, 80 isn’t). Maybe for people starting out earlier in the game….

  29. What is wrong if the aunt is concerned about her nephew, that he should have Parnossa for him and his family to live on?

    It’s nice that she takes an interest in him.

    Maybe C”V there’s no one else to do so.

  30. easy way to help when schools come collecting ask them if they give a proper education to their kids if not tell them, I’m sorry I can not give money to your organization and tell all your friends and neighbors and relatives to do the same.

  31. After the war, my father came to this country with nothing, got up for work before dark, came home long after dark, and did unskilled labor in between. He earned enough to buy the basics for his family, and sent his children to college, and graduate school, if necessary, without student loans (or any other loans). We did without the luxuries that today are considered necessities. There are still menial jobs with long hours for people willing to work long hours at menial jobs. While our parents hoped for a better life for us, there is no shame in living the way he did. Certainly, it would be nice if this young man had a skill or an education. But we have lost sight of what we really need in order to live.

  32. It is a known fact that people are stressing and pushing the boys to marry money so they can learn forever
    where are they getting this from

  33. #30, One chesed may be worth more than a thousand words of Torah study. Supporting a family is a big chesed, and supporting the less fortunate is a huge mitzvah,as well. These require money. The gemara held that a father must teach his son a trade, and Ben Azzai who preferred to only learn was an individual exception, not the rule. Learning a trade includes college which is a necessity today for making a living. Case closed.

  34. To #38: hopefully #26 meant the CPA exam, a very difficult exam to give accountants CPA status.

    The way my grandfathers worked would be considered unheard of today. They worked diligently and uncomplaining, coming to America after surviving the Holocaust. They spent little, saving their money for major events or their retirement. How many live like that today?

    And their sons worked too. It was a given.

    If it doesn’t make sense, it doesn’t make sense, whether you have money or you don’t. Great rabbonim worked for a living.

    The current generation is that of “Gimme.”

  35. Re:#31

    “To read secular studies now and then is

    The writer typifies the misguided
    proponents of the “Torah-Only” ideology.
    It is counterproductive.

    “The standard of livelihood is bare
    minimum… Bread, salt and water. If you
    have that you have parnassah…”

    It is simply wrong to promote such
    outlandish ideas as the norm. Jewish
    law does not favor poverty vows. (The
    foregoing might apply to very pious
    individuals who totally devote their lives
    to Torah study. There is no such
    obligation for average people.)

    To the contrary: Halacha prescribes work and Torah learning.

    This concept is clearly stated
    in The Ethics Of The Fathers Chapter 2,
    Mishnah 2. (“If there is no flour, there is
    no Torah, ibid 3:17)

    The general Halacha prescribes
    a daily schedule consisting of Torah study
    and work—with the exception of those who
    truly study Torah full time. (See Shulchan
    Aruch Orach Chaim 246:1)

    In order to make a living,
    young people need a good education.
    (Those who wish to learn a profession
    often need to engage in intensive study
    of the subject at hand in order to
    be competent in their field of endeavor.)

    Rambam in Mishnah Torah Hilchos
    Deos 5:11 writes clearly about the need
    for a proper education:

    “Intelligent men first establish
    for themselves an occupation to make a
    living, then buy a house (or acquire a
    residence) and then get married…

    Contrariwise, fools begin by
    marrying a wife and only thereafter
    attempt to find a place to live and look
    for a job…” (Free translation and

    See Berachos 43b where one can
    read a beautiful homily based on Koheles
    3:11. Here the Talmud teaches that God
    has given each person unique talents
    and abilities for particular activities
    and occupations. (It is thus wrong to
    insist that everybody stay in
    yeshiva all day long.)

    See Chovos Halevovos, section
    on Bitachon chapter 3. I paraphrase
    the relevant segment:

    “People have different personalities. Therefore, they are attracted
    to certain vocations and occupations. Once
    a person discovers his interest, he should
    pursue it in order to make a living with Hashem’s help..”

    Thus, it is clear that Torah
    sources—besides common sense—favor secular studies at least for pragmatic considerations.

    To quote Rabbi Samson Rafael Hirsch:

    “It is an educational mistake,
    bordering on the criminal, to teach our
    children to despise science and secular
    vocations. Such an outlook is based on
    falsehood and ignorance…”
    (R. Samson Raphael Hirsch, Ges. Schriften,
    vol.4, p.43)

  36. FiveTownsAnon (42):

    Incorrect. In fact, one word of Torah may be worth more than a thousand cheseds. It says Talmud Torah Kneged Kulam.

    Additionally, college is not needed to earn a parnassa. Even a goy knows that.

    Dr. Arnold Berger (#44):

    “Kach hi darkah shel torah – pas b’melach tochal etc” — Bread salt and water — if you have that, you have parnasah, says Pirkei Avos. The Rambam writes that a typical Baal Habayis works 3 hours a day and learns 8.

  37. Re Yosef #44 “Kakh hee darkah shel Torah-
    pas b’melach tokhal…thus is the way of
    Torah–thou shalt eat bread, salt and
    water–if you have that, you have

    That is a wrong interpretation. The
    foregoing does not apply to average
    members of the community. This viewpoint
    reflects the theology of the saint Rabbi
    Shimon Ben Yochai—whose opinion is not
    accepted as normative Halacha.
    (Talmud Berachos 35; Pirkay Avos 2:2;
    Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 156:1)

    In order to understand Rambam’s
    point, one must study the relevant
    source: Mishnah Torah Hilchos Talmud
    Torah 3:6

    When read entirely in context,
    it is clear that Rambam is talking about
    an individual who wishes to master his
    Torah studies. In order to accomplish
    this sacred task, one must be willing to
    make sacrifices. Thus, even if it is
    necessary to do without luxuries—so be
    it—“kakh hee darkah shel Torah.”

    Rambam does not refer to
    ordinary people. They are not required to
    subsist on a diet of bread, salt and
    water. (In fact, such a diet is not
    literally prescribed for Torah scholars
    either. Certainly moderation is
    incumbent upon everyone.)

    To the contrary, as a physician
    Rambam would certainly oppose a literal
    understanding of the aforesaid for health
    considerations. (Such a diet would be
    conducive to high blood pressure and

    It is clear from his treatise
    on proper nutrition that no sane
    person should go on that diet.

    Thus, the writer’s literal interpretation is refuted by Rambam himself
    in Mishnah Torah Hilkhos Deos 3:1 where
    extremism is unequivocably denounced.

    Such an extremist is graphically
    described by Rambam as follows:

    “…He will not eat meat, nor
    drink wine, nor live in a pleasant home, nor
    wear fine clothing but rather put on
    sackcloth and coarse wool—like pagan

    Says Rambam—contrary to Yosef the
    writer—“This is a bad path and it is forbidden to walk on it. Anyone who does is
    called a sinner.”

    “The Rambam writes that a typical
    Baal Habayis works three hours a day and
    8.” Rambam does not say anything of the sort. To the contrary, Rambam calls upon people
    to toil and love work ibid. Hilchos Talmud Torah 3:10 & 11.

    How can anyone expect to support
    a family—especially many children by just working three hours? Is that
    realistic? The Torah expects us to use our common sense. “If thou shalt eat the toil of thy hands it will be good for thee.” (Psalms
    Based on that verse, Rambam concludes: “You will be happy in this world”
    if you follow this wise advice. In addition,
    you will be happy in the hereafter as it is
    written in Scripture: “It will be good for thee
    in the world to come which is entirely good.”

    I write this in response to the author of the article and others in a similar
    situation. (May those who toil in their Torah
    studies be blessed.) But those who can’t learn
    full time should not be discouraged. According
    to the Torah, they should learn a trade or
    prepare to acquire professional skills.

    Not everyone should learn full time. It is necessary for young people to get
    a good education. The Torah wants you to get a
    good education. (A college education is also
    included—of course, without “preetzus” or
    “apikorsus.” It is vital to have more Jewish colleges like YU and Touro. As the illustrious
    Rabbi Shamson Rafael Hirsch forcefully asserted: It is sinful to neglect practical education and cultural enrichment which HaShem demands.

  38. #46

    You are incorrect once more.

    See Rambam Hilchos Talmud Torah 3:13 where Rambam states — and it is important to note Rambam is referring to a “working man” not a Kollel man — that one should work 3 hours a day, and learn 8.

    Additionally, this principle is brought down elsewhere in the commentaries. For another of the many examples see Oros HaGra pg.297 where he brings down from the Gr”a that one should work 3 hours per day, or 4 in difficult times, is permitted for toiling in parnasa. And only in such a way that there shouldn’t be a second of bitul, only in the yoke of torah and avodah. Eating and sleeping is in the category of avodah.

    Regarding your side comment, as we’ve seen from recent events as well as many past events, YU is full of Kefira.

  39. Re #48

    “See Rambam Hilkhos Talmud Torah 3:13…
    Rambam is referring to a working man—not
    Kollel man—who should work 3 hours and
    learn 8 hours.”

    Wrong. Rambam says nothing of the sort
    there. In fact, if you study the entire
    chapter, especially ibid. 10, Rambam’s
    ruling prohibits the current system:
    “Anyone who concludes that he should
    learn Torah without working and derive
    his livelihood from charity desecrates
    God’s name, dishonors the Torah,
    turns off the light of religion, brings
    evil upon himself and loses his life
    in the hereafter since it is forbidden to
    benefit from Torah in this world.”

    That’s what Rambam really says
    in plain English.

    As mentioned above, the exhortation “Kakh hee darkah shel Torah–
    pas beh-meh-lekh toh-khal is found ibid. 3:6
    which refers to an individual who aspires to
    become a Torah scholar—not to laymen:

    “Someone who is inspired to acquire
    the crown of Torah must be totally dedicated
    to the task…” Thus, it is up to the
    individual to decide whether to walk this
    path. “Oros HaGra p.297 work 3-4 hours day.”
    Those comments were relevant to the
    economic conditions prevailing in the 18th
    century in Eastern Europe. That does not
    apply today.

    It would be realistic for a person
    to have such a schedule once he has
    acquired the professional skills necessary
    to earn a good income—as Rambam advises.

    But in order to have a good job,
    one needs to learn the skills that will
    ensure competence. That can only be done
    by systematic secular study—not random
    perusal of notes and pamphlets.

    “Regarding your side comment, as
    we’ve seen, YU is full of Kefira.”

    What side comment? I am not
    a YU spokesman. I have never been there.
    There is kefira everywhere. But there is
    no kefira regarding math, science,
    history, computer operations. Their
    aim is to give Jewish young people a
    decent education.

    Why are you so against Touro
    College? We need more Jewish colleges.
    Rabbi Shamshon Rafael Hirsch and his
    “Rebbe”, The Arukh HaNer, Rabbi Yaakov
    Ettlinger, attended universities. Other
    great rabbis attended college. Not
    everyone should go to college and not
    everyone should study in a yeshiva full
    time. Each person is required to find
    his path as taught in Chovos Halevovos.
    (All paths do not lead to full-time
    study of the Talmud.)

    To the Kollel fellow who wrote the
    article, don’t listen to the fanatics
    in your community. Get a good education
    and learn a trade. That’s what the Torah
    teaches. Of course, if you wish to devote
    your life to Torah studies, wonderful.

    P.S. Don’t think I’m just in favor
    of English studies. As part of a good
    Jewish education, Jews should study
    Hebrew, Aramaic, Yiddish and where
    appropriate Ladino. But most important,
    whatever one does, one must ask HaShem
    for assistance.

    The subject of the role of
    secular education in the religious
    community is open to many
    interpretations which are sanctioned
    by Jewish law and tradition. All sides
    should be given a fair hearing.

  40. Dr.,

    I’m not sure what field your a doc in, but a Torah scholar it surely isn’t. Rambam most certainly does say that a “baal habus” should work 3 hours a day.


  41. #46 “In fact one word of Torah might be worth
    more than 1000 cheseds.”

    Rebuttal: In fact one act of chesed
    (kindness) might be worth more than
    a thousand words of Torah study.

    As the Talmud teaches: To save
    one life is to save the whole world.

  42. Re: Aharon Schindler #49

    “Rambam says a “baal habus” should work
    3 hours.”

    Actually, you’re wrong. Your mistake
    is due to ignorance of Hebrew.

    A. Rambam does not write the noun “baal
    habus” in the Mishnah Torah.

    Do you know what he writes? (I have
    yet to meet any right-wing ideologue
    capable of answering that simple
    question.) I know but you don’t. But
    maybe you chaps will locate it before

    Re #47
    “….work three hours and learn 8
    That quote is inaccurate. You even
    misquoted the learning schedule
    referenced by Maimonides.

    “I’m not sure what field your sic.
    a doc in…”

    On this subject you’re in left
    field–neither Torah nor English.

    Look, if you wish to follow
    Rambam literally, then your entire
    yeshiva system—as it now operates—
    could be branded “kefira.”

    As documented above, Rambam
    denounces wiseguys of your ilk for

  43. Re #49 Aharon Schindler

    “Rambam most certainly says that a
    ‘baal habus’ should work 3 hours.”

    Baloney! You don’t know Hebrew.
    Rambam does not use that noun.

    Re #47 “…learn 8 hours.”

    Wrong. You even misrepresented
    the alleged learning schedule.

  44. Re: Arnold #52

    “Talmud Torah kneged kulam.”

    The same thing is said about Sabbath
    observance. Such statements in the Talmud
    are used only for rhetorical emphasis.

    In real life, however, Torah often
    confers priority upon virtuous deeds.

    For example, saving lives.

    See Shulchan Arukh Yorah Deah
    251:14 where in practice saving lives
    takes precedence over learning.

  45. Mr. Berger,

    Aharon Schindler is correct. The Rambam suggests a working man should work the number of hours indicated by Mr. Schindler.

    Stop nitpicking about “nouns” and whther the exact term was “baal habus” or not.

    You ought to be better than that.

    Please be intellectually honest in the future.

  46. Mr. Berger,

    You really make me laugh.

    You can actually say with a straight face that “Talmud Torah kneged kulam” is only said by Chazal for “rhetorical purposes”?!

    Do you dismiss the whole Torah like this??

    Sounds like the Haskalah to me.

  47. Re #57

    “Do you dismiss the whole Torah like this? Sounds like the Haskala to me.”

    Learn how to read. Get your high school diploma. Do Teshuva.

  48. Re: #56

    “Stop nitpicking about nouns.”

    Sorry to confuse you with facts.
    You cannot accept the truth since it
    conflicts with your bias.

    Because of your ignorance of the language, you draw the wrong conclusion.

    You don’t know PSHAT in Rambam.
    Get your high school diploma.

  49. #55

    “Stop nitpicking about nouns. It
    doesn’t make a difference whether
    it says ‘baal habus’…”

    Knowledge of classical Hebrew is essential. Because of your ignorance you
    misunderstand Rambam.

    In this case knowledge of the noun
    is significant. But changing the noun—as
    you impiously did—changes the meaning,
    which distorts Torah. Shame on you.

  50. Gentlemen:

    It seems my message was not initially posted. (There were technical difficulties with
    the transmission.) That accounts for the repetition. (I thought my original post did not go through.)

  51. Re: #50 Aharon Schindler

    Do you know what “noun” Rambam uses?
    It is not “Baal HaBayis.”

    1) “Baal HaBayis” can mean a regular
    working man or average person.

    2) The term used by Rambam in Mishnah
    Torah does not mean regular working

    Thus, you changed the original text.

  52. Re: Arnold

    Ad hominem attacks on someone who logically defeated you does your cause no justice.

    Your misinterpretation and rewriting of Rambam fools no one.

    Learn Torah and you will finally see the Emes.

  53. Berger

    Please stop disgracing those of us who truly hold a title with your fictitious usage of such.

    Your childish repetition of deceptions, and infantile mudslinging, mars your reputation or what is left of it.

  54. Re #64

    “Stop disgracing us…”

    Kaplan, you disgrace yourself for failing
    to understand elementary Hebrew.

    You don’t even know what the subject is.
    Because of your ignorance, young
    people are discouraged and don’t get an
    education. Learn Torah and repent, sinner.

  55. Re Shmuel #63

    “Ad hominem attacks.” You describe yourself and your ignorance.

    You still have failed to quote the source from Mishnah Torah about a “Baal Habus”.
    It does not exist.

    What about the other sources quoted
    which refute your opposition to teaching
    and learning secular subjects?

    You ignore that because it conflicts
    with your prejudice and kefira.

  56. Re #63

    Can’t you discuss a subject without
    insulting people?

    Re #64

    Can’t you discuss a subject without insulting people?

    I quoted classical sources—many
    from Mishnah Torah which clearly state that
    it is necessary to learn Torah and secular

    Rambam calls people who fail to get
    a proper education fools. In addition,
    Rambam denounces those who learn without

    You cannot handle the truth.

  57. Wow. Mr. Berger is telling everyone how ignorant they are, that they need a “high school diploma”, that they all need to do “teshuva”, rants about there “kefira” and “prejudice”, etc. etc. Apparently he holds is “the” only “one” who got things right!

    Doc, everyone’s wrong and your right.


  58. Re: #67 Aaron Schindler

    “Wow…how ignorant they are, they need
    a high school diploma…everyone’s

    You should show respect to real talmiday
    chachamim like Dr. Arnold Berger.

    He is right. He knows the subject well.
    He has amazing bekeeus on many Torah
    subjects. Many people appreciate his
    penetrating analysis and colorful writing.

    “He holds he is the only one who got
    things right.”

    Rabbi Dr. Berger is not the only one
    who is right. There are many Gedolim
    and fine rabbanim who agree with Dr.

    You guys won’t admit you’re wrong.
    That’s your problem. Following this
    debate, I can say that Dr. Berger backs
    up all his statements with precise
    analysis. In this case, his explanations
    of Rambam are right on target. Anyone
    can check his sources.

    If you disagree, back up your
    statements. Don’t call him names.

    In particular, his rebuttal
    about Rambam’s schedule is correct.

    In addition, he is right about
    Rambam’s opposition to learning without
    working. (You guys brought it up. You
    can’t blame him for translating for you
    what Rambam really says about that. You
    can’t cover it up. Sweeping it under the
    rug is not scholarship.)

    If you read Mishnah Torah
    carefully, Rambam does not write
    that a “baalahbus” should learn 3 hours.

    He’s right. It’s not just a
    matter of knowing Hebrew. (You guys
    should learn Hebrew) The issue is more
    about understanding Rambam and his
    impact on the actual halacha.

    You guys could not answer his
    question by citing the chapter and
    subsection where the work and learning
    schedule is indicated. (He is right about
    the language. Rambam is not
    talking about a typical baalabus.)

    #63 ” ad hominem attacks”

    Dr. Berger simply cited sources
    in Rambam and Shulchan Aruch. You
    apparently do not understand the term
    “ad hominem”.

    Dr. Berger should be given many
    opportunities to post his comments. They
    are incisive and scholarly and it’s
    daat torah. Keep up the good work, Dr.

  59. Folks,

    The last post is good for a hearty laugh.

    It was posted by “Dr.” Arnold Berger himself!

    Notice how he praises and compliments himself. And talks to himself in the 3rd person.

    Also notice how the handwriting of the posts precisely matches all the previous posts by Berger.

    Even the very unusual formatting of the post, with the “line returns” (carriage return) ending each line in the post early — something only Berger does on Matzav — precisely matches Berger’s earlier posts!

    He has revealed himself for what he is.

  60. Dr. Arnold Berger is right. Aaron Kaplan will soon be getting his high school diploma. I think I will also get my high school diploma too. Gedolim share Dr. Berger’s brilliant ideas. So should we.

  61. Attention comments 44, 46, 48, 50, 52, 53, 54, 57, 58, 59, 60, 61, 64, 65, 66, 68, and 74 are all by one person using various different names.

    He should be ashamed of himself for attacking Torah Judaism and expressing a secular viewpoint that is antithetical to every G-d fearing Jew.


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