THE COLLECTED WRITINGS OF RABBI PINKY SCHMECKELSTEIN
Ask Rabbi Pinky: On Limud Toirah
This week I address the topic of Limud Toirah.
The following shayla is a from an aspiring Toirah scholar with a apikoresdikka Greek name:
Rebbe, please forgive me for disturbing your monitoring of the evils of the modern world (for what other reason, except to keep your faithful flock away from the yetzer hora, would you be need to simultaneously monitor all of the most recent X-rated DVD releases and surf the internet for pornography?). Only a man of your kedusha could directly enter the realm of the yezter hora and emerge intact (and I'll bet that hot little pilegesh you've been using to "take out your frustrations" helps too - don't worry, I'd never tell the Rebbetzin). But I thought I should bring this to your immediate attention:
Based on the minhag described in the email copied below (as practiced at our local pseudo-charedi fake yehsiva-ish self-hating modern orthodox shteibel), I have been able to precisely characterize the relative value of a newborn Jewish girls and boys in this community. One "baby girl kiddush" runs about $2000 and is sponsored by about 10 families, compared to a bris which is sponsored by one family and runs $5000, we find that boys are worth about 25 times as much as girls.
So, being a very entrepreneurial bochur (who happens to be out of work since they started cracking down on my other honored and respected means of earning a parnaso - scamming Pell grants, engaging in insurance scams, selling Regents exams…)I was wondering if it would be permissable to offer prenatal sex screening to shtetl (I mean Brooklyn) families, with the option of terminating the pregnancy if, G-d forbid, it turns out to be a girl…
If, Rebbe, you have problems with the whole abortion thing, maybe I can have a goyishe partner in the business? Or maybe I can sell the business to a goy for the procedure then buy it back afterwards? Or maybe a Beis Din can buy the business from me during the procedure, and sell it back to me after? There must be some heter for this. I'm begging you Rebbe, this is my last hope - if this scam doesn't work, I may have to give up learning Toirah in my kollel and have to get a job in chinuch (G-d forbid! though at least I could have some fun beating the crap out of those little cheder boys). And don't forget, should you in your great wisdom and Toirah learning find a way to not crush my hopes and dreams, there will be a healthy kickback transfered directly to your Swiss account - er, I meant contribution made directly to your holy Yeshiva.
…I'm no scholar of your stature, Rebbe, but don't you think maybe it is lifnei ever for you not to give me a heter?
> From: NAME_WITHHELD@Yahoogroups.com
We are interested in making a kiddush in honor of the birth of our baby girls. Does anyone else want to join us to make a "group" kiddush to celebrate the birth of your baby girls? We are hoping to coordinate this kiddush and make it happen during the next few shabbosim (before the yomim tovim).
Thank you so much for your learned shayla. First, let me compliment you on your detailed question. Your highly detailed question. Your extraordinarily detailed question.
Your question was like great chazzanus – it reflects amazing mesiras nefesh, it inspires tremendous kedushah, and it is a wonderful testament to a centuries old art form. But better that I go to Vasikin, alone, unarmed, at the Mearas Hamachpelah during Ramadan than have to listen to such chazzanus. Or better yet, maybe I should sleep in and watch Spongebob, Chass Vesholom.
In any case, your shayla touches upon a number of critical topics to Klal Yisroel. Let me restate the two key issues, as I see them.
1) What is the proper profession for a Ben Toirah?
2) What is the halachic position on “Happalah”?
To your first question, many worthy Bnei Toirah such as yourself have pondered this issue while in the course of their Reboinoisheloilum ordained daily activities – while wearing talis and tefillin during shacharis, while sitting in the bais medrish, while immersing in the mikvah, while driving in the cars donated to their Rabbinic institutions for tax purposes, and while on line for lottery tickets.
According to Ben Hay Hay in Perek Yood of Pirkei Avois, the preferred parnassah of a Ben Toirah is to be supported by the father of his kallah. And if the kallah is a meeskeit, Rachmana Letzlan , then Ben Toirah is also entitled to a healthy bonus equal to 1,000 zuzim for every maiyseh biyuh, plus 10,000 options redeemable in five years at a strike price equal to the cost of a mid-sized Esroig from Bavel at Rosh Hashanah time the following year, as established by the S&P (Sura and Pumpedisa) index.
However, Rabban Gamliel disagrees. He suggests that a Ben Toirah not rely on handouts from his father-in-law, chass v’sholom, but that he be put on the books of his father-in-law’s business, and is chayav mi-Dioraisah to come into the office once a week to look at his mail, as well as check out the cleavage on the hot shiksah receptionist.
And what if his wife’s father is dead? Or even worse, her father is not wealthy? The Gemarrah discusses this at length in Masechess Kesubois, Perek 401K. According to Rav Huna, all is permitted in order to support one’s family. He brings as an example the scholar Ben Drusoy, who was part-time chef, part-time thief, and full time Kollel Bochur.
Rav Ashi holds farkhert. He holds that one may not steal from an individual, but may indeed steal from an institution, since his thievery is considered to be battul be-shishim. As proof, Rav Ashi cites a Braisah that details how Rebbi Elazar Ben Azariah used to claim senior citizen discounts even though he was only eighteen years old.
Rav Ashi’s position is the basis for the position of most Reshoinim and Acharoinim. The following are some practical suggestions from some of the greatest Rabbinic minds.
1) According to the RASHBAM, the wife of a Ben Toirah should keep up her part of the marital bargain. While her husband is strenuously devoting all of his precious life energies to harbotzas ha-Toirah, she must do her fair share. Rather than selfishly complain about the strain of raising six children in a one bedroom apartment, she should “get off her Tuchus,” says the RASHBAM, and get a job teaching or working in the local grocery or working as a sheitelmacher. But to really express Yirass Shamayim, she should overcome the Yetzer by emulating her husband’s grueling three chavrusas a day and taking on all three jobs.
2) Rabbeinu Tam suggests that a Ben Toirah should always apply for food stamps, welfare and other government related social benefits. After all, better WE should get this money than the goyim, who irresponsibly go have seven children without any means of supporting themselves. The lazy mamzerim.
3) The RAMBAN goes one step further, citing the example of Tamar from Sefer Beraishis. He suggests that a true Bas Yisroel should claim unwed mother status whenever she gives birth. This allows her to maximize her earnings potential and enable her husband to continue to dedicate his life to Limud Toirah with a modicum of self respect. What a Kiddush Hashem!
4) The Chassam Soifer makes a suggestion that is more relevant to the modern day. He recommends that a Ben Toirah and his wife start a successful home business. In particular, he advocates that they open a porn telephone hotline business. The money is great, and the time requirements are quite flexible: The wife can work the afternoon shift providing telephone services to straight men, while the Kollel bochur can take a few calls from gay men when he gets home after evening seder. NOTE: He must just be careful to disguise his voice, lest he be recognized if his rebbe dials into the hotline.
5) A related initiative was adopted by an enterprising young Toirah scholar:
6) Many Bnei Toirah have unfortunately been oiver by making false health and property damage claims to insurers. According to Reb Elchanan Wasserman, this violates on the principle of Dinah D’Malcusa Dinah, and even worse, raises our insurance fees. Rather, a Ben Toirah should take on the respectable role of insurance broker. Specifically, he should broker insurance claims for others who cannot file the claims themselves – for example, people that have been dead since the Nixon Administration.
7) Rav Avraham Shapira suggests that if all else fails, a Ben Toirah should make the ultimate sacrifice and take on a union job. According to Reb Avrum, after one week on the job he should make certain to “have an accident” severe enough to entitle him to workman’s compensation and subsidized Toirah study for the rest of his life. Hey, you only need one hand to flip a page in a Gemarrah.
Now, my beloved Anonymous, with regard to your second question: According to the Toirah, can one engage in Happalah?
As is well known, a child is not considered viable until 30 days after it is born; if a newborn child dies before then, there is no standard period of mourning.
However, one must ask whether this calculation is equally relevant to both the male and the female. A male can of course potentially father tens or even hundreds of children from a multitude of mothers. A woman, however, is restricted to birthing approximately one child for each of her child bearing years. Say, a total of twenty children per woman.
Now, as established above, a man is biologically capable of procreating with hundreds of women. Such activity is permitted MiDioraisa whether he is married or not, as long as he does not commit an act of Biyuh with a married woman.
However, once a woman marries, she may not give in to her Yetzer Harrah and commit the Dioraisa of Gilui Arayois. Such an abominable act would deem her a Soitah, and she would be Chayav Misah (along with the man with whom she engaged in the illicit extramarital relationship). And since every Bas Yisroel should be married at the age of eighteen at the latest, a woman is banned MiDioraisah from having relations with anyone save her husband for the vast majority of her life. Yet while a married woman cannot always surround herself with Toirah, she is always surrounded by temptation. Consequently every woman is automatically a chashash of Soitah.
As a result, a life of a woman CANNOT be equal to that of a man, for at the age of 30 days and up, she may decide to engage in Gilui Arayois and is potentially Chayav Misa. Consequently, her life is worth far less than a man’s.
Therefore, if a fetus is a Nekaiyvah, chass v’sholom, one is certainly permitted to engage in induced miscarriage prior to the birth. Moreover, it may indeed be a mitzvah De-Rabbanan to commit a retroactive abortion after a girl has been born, in order to prevent the issur Dioraisa of Gilui Arayois and to prevent the girl from playing the temptress and causing another to sin before the Aimishteh.
So, as you can see, Hakadoshboruchhu provides for those who dedicate their lives to studying Toirah. While others waste away the limited time they have on earth by focusing on gashmiyus, you should remain committed to the derech and never compromise, especially with your wife.
Ah Gutten Shabbos, You Minuval