Monday, March 14, 2011

The Invention of Chesed

Dear Readers,

Due to technical (mainly temporal) constraints, I have been unable to dedicate any significant time to this venue. On the other hand, I feel that its ongoing existence is of value. I have chosen a random post by Rabbi Slifkin to comment on. If any readers would like me to post on a particular topic, please contact me at

About two weeks ago, Rabbi Slifkin chose to broach the topic of "mushulachim". He writes as follows:

"Recently, a chassidishe tzedakah-collector came to my door, collecting for a young man getting married. I asked him what the young man does, and the meshulach looked a little surprised at my question; the young man is in yeshivah, of course, a fine ben Torah. So I asked how he can possibly spend all his time in yeshivah, when he cannot afford to get married and has to send people to collect money for him? Does it not say in the kesubah that the husband has an obligation to support his wife? Is it not his duty to at least attempt to earn some money himself?"

Hmm… I wonder how much research Rabbi Slifkin actually did regarding the prospective groom. Not much, it seems. The meshulach informed him that the chasan was a Yeshiva man and immediately Rabbi Slifkin responded with unsupported criticism.

"how he can possibly spend all his time in yeshivah?"

Who says he spends all his time in Yeshiva? Maybe he works part-time and can’t make ends meet?

"and has to send people to collect money for him"

Who says he sent anyone to collect money for him? Maybe his friend sympathized with his situation and decided to collect funds for his wedding?

"Does it not say in the kesubah that the husband has an obligation to support his wife?"

So, is that it? Is hachnasos kallah (openly mandated in Maseches Peah) now taboo because some 20 year old doesn’t have a job? Sure the kesuba mandates an obligation but the boy is not married yet. Perhaps he intends on finding gainful employment after marriage? What is Rabbi Slifkin saying? Is he advocating trade school, or university, for all post-high school graduates? Is he suggesting that the Yeshiva system be abrogated? If not, what IS he suggesting? Why did he give the meshulach such a hard time?

Look, I know many readers are probably thinking "this Coffer fellow is na├»ve", at best. But this issue has been a sore point in the Chareidi world for quite some time now. And although I could understand Rabbi Slifkin’s attitude if it pertained to a 45 year old kollel fellow with 10 kids, I can’t understand it regarding a young unmarried yeshiva boy who happens to be monetarily disadvantaged. Anything between these two extremes is a grey area and needs to be dealt with on a national level by competent gedolei torah, and on an individual level, by competent rabbonim.

If Rabbi Slifkin would like to reform "the system", let him say so. And while doing that, let him offer positive and constructive suggestions to promote same.

To quote the good Rabbi: "it is always easier to obfuscate and distort than to untangle and clarify"