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Friday, November 12, 2010 

Shas MK offers a positive idea

Rabbi Chaim Amsalem has argued that Torah students and scholars should support themselves and not rely on others for that:
Amsalem, who served in the past as rabbi of a large synagogue in Geneva, has been outspoken in taking non-Shas-like stances on various issues, including most recently the matter of Torah study and work. Amsalem feels that Kollel members [married men who study Torah full-time] must not rely on others to support them. This morning, he displayed letters from Rabbi Mazuz, one of the most highly-regarded Sephardic Torah giants, supporting this position as well.


Another letter from Rabbi Mazuz to Rabbi Amsalem notes that Torah scholars traditionally supported themselves and did not rely on the public. He specifically noted the scholars of Jerba, who engaged in business or silver-crafting; the author of Chaye Adam; and the Chazon Ish, who supported his family only from the sale of his books.

“This method of the woman working to support her husband [while he studies Torah] was unknown to the Sages, except in the most special cases,” Rabbi Mazuz wrote. “Aside from Rabbi Akiva and his friends, the Sages of blessed memory supported their wives, and not vice-versa, as is written in the ketuba [marital contract]: ‘I will support and feed, etc.’”
This is definitely impressive and inspiring that someone in the Hasidic community and a political party understands that being reliant upon others - especially if that happens to be the government - and doesn't specialize in a real job, isn't a good example. At the end of the item, it says he may be leaving the Shas party to form his own. Since Shas wasn't exactly encouraging what Amsalem is arguing in favor of, that could explain why he may decide to do this, as better platforms are needed in which to inspire and educate the religious public about why it's important to set a good example in working careers to support both the family and religious education. By today's standards, that could even include trying to work in software engineering, including development of Torah-learning technology!

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