Monday, September 17, 2007

Some Perspective

A favourite saying of the Rabbis of Jabneh was: I am God's creature and my fellow is God's creature. My work is in the town and his work is in the country. I rise early for my work and he rises early for his work. Just as he does not presume to do my work, so I do not presume to do his work. Will you say, I do much and he does little? We have learnt: One may do much or one may do little; it is all one, provided he directs his heart to heaven.

Brachot 17a


Seems to me like those Yavneh rabbis had a better appreciation for non-kollelites than do some segments of contemporary Judaism.

10 comments:

Skeptodox said...

They only learned in Yavneh on Shabbos. Weekdays they worked in finance.

Miri said...

Yes but it doesn't matter what the sages used to think. it matters what today's rabbis tell us they used to think.

alex said...

Miri, does it also matter what the Rishonim and Acharonim tell us what the sages used to think?

alex said...

"Seems to me like those Yavneh rabbis had a better appreciation for non-kollelites than do some segments of contemporary Judaism. "

And perhaps the non-Yavneh folks the Yavneh rabbis were talking about had a better appreciation for kollelites than do some segments of contemporary Judaism.

Miri said...

Alex-
"does it also matter what the Rishonim and Acharonim tell us what the sages used to think?"

Of course it does. Why wouldn't it?

Do over! said...

There is an even better Midrash but I can't quote the location. It goes something like this:

As Avrohom was traveling through Mesopotamia on the way to Canaan, he saw the people there just 'hanging out'. Then when he got to Canaan, he saw that people where busy working industriously. He said to Hashem, 'Let this be the land that you intended for me.'

alex said...

"Alex-"does it also matter what the Rishonim and Acharonim tell us what the sages used to think?"

Of course it does. Why wouldn't it?

--> Well Miri, if it matters what today's rabbis tell us what the sages used to think, and it matters what the acharonim and rishonim tell us what the sages used to think, then I would think it also matters what the sages themselves used to think. (Judging you more favorably than before, perhaps you originally meant to say, "But it doesn't *so much* matter what the sages used to think, as what today's rabbis tell us they used to think.")

xvi said...

My rabbi told me that the rishonim tell us that chazal tells us that the torah tells us that it was oaky then, as the opportunity for making a living as a kollel yungelite just didnt work out then. Now, in the days of rampant capitalism, where the jewish community is far more well-to-do, the opportunity is present and should certainly be taken.

Ironically, this came up on the same day I was studying opportunistic diseases...

Hint: they only tend to strike when the body is at its weakest.

Orthoprax said...

The Yavneh rabbis were saying that it doesn't matter what you do in life as much as it matters how you do it and the street sweeper can be just as great a man as the scholar.

Personally I have no beef with people taking time out of their lives to learn earnestly the lessons in our heritage. I tend to largely disagree about the nature of Judaism with those who go through your typical kollel, but in theory that kind of study is very good.

But all too often you have people who go to study not with their 'heart directed to heaven' but with the goal of all sorts of lower pursuits. They are little different from the perennial university student who refuses to go out into the real world. They also look upon themselves as princes of the world while anyone else is doing lesser work.

"Rabbi Tzadok used to say: Do not make the Torah a crown with which to aggrandize yourself, nor use it as a spade with which to dig." - P.A. 4:7

Miri said...

Alex-
"Well Miri, if it matters what today's rabbis tell us what the sages used to think, and it matters what the acharonim and rishonim tell us what the sages used to think, then I would think it also matters what the sages themselves used to think."

Firstly, I was being slightly ironic. I'm clumsy at that sometimes, so don't feel bad for not getting it.

Second, my point was, yes, it does matter what all those people thought/think; what's disturbing is today's Rabbis telling us what all these people thought/think, as opposed to teaching us their actual opinions. You know, like, from stuff they wrote themselves. Or something. Just a thought.