THE LATEST ISSUE of the Jerusalem Report magazine, Ze'ev Chafets wrote an
article entitled "The Talmud Market." The article is an attack on the Talmud
and the study of Talmud as it is practiced in yeshivas here in Israel and
throughout the world. Chafets himself reveals his direction when he writes
"I ask a simple question about the Talmud: What's it good for?" His proof
of the uselessness of Talmudic study is purely economic. He writes, "The
marketplace is a hard master, it rarely affords a living wage to someone
for pursuing a hobby or interest that is of no general use... They [the students
of the Talmud] are, as a result [of studying Talmud exclusively], unable
to build a bridge, pull a tooth, unstop a drain or grow a tomato. They are
fit for nothing but teaching the Talmud to others. Unhappily there is no
market for such people." He therefore lumps most of the students of the Talmud
into a nasty sounding group of "tens of thousands of holy loafers."
Now Chafets is certainly entitled to his opinions.
His vitriolic comments about traditional Jewish life and its beliefs and
practices are well-known to those who read his column. However, one would
have hoped that he would at least have something new to say about the subject.
Instead he is merely repeating the statements made to the rabbis of the Talmud
themselves many long centuries ago.
"Of what good are your yeshiva students?" was
the question hurled at the heads of the yeshivas in Babylonia in the fourth
century. Those students could also not build a bridge, pull a tooth, unstop
a drain or grow a tomato. But the rabbis of the Talmud, whose words are still
studied and admired today by millions of Jews, stated that "the study of
Torah is above all else in Jewish life." And it was and is the study of Torah
above all else that has preserved the Jewish people until today. The impractical,
non-economically-rewarding, other-worldly study of Torah was the main force
that has kept the Jewish people alive, vibrant, creative and stubborn to
the core until today.
For the Jewish people itself is basically an
impractical entity. And the State of Israel, even today fifty-one years after
its founding, is still not a rational or even militaristically or economically
justifiable venture. But, since it is Jewish, it need not somehow conform
to the rules of the marketplace or the acceptance and blessing of the European
Union in order to thrive and survive.
It is the very fact that there are tens of thousands
of young men, all of whom could have an easier and more comfortable life
if they abandoned the yeshivas (even including army service in the equation),
that should cause others to wonder why this phenomenon of intensive and devoted
Talmud study continues to persist in our modern society. We should stand
back and view the sight of the rebirth and growth of Torah study in our
post-Holocaust generations with wonder and echo the words of Moses at the
sight of the burning bush - "and, lo, the bush is not consumed!" Torah, the
Talmud, its students and adherents are major assets of the Jewish people.
They form the link to our past and point us towards our destiny. Without
them, we have no claim to this land, to our uniqueness as a people, to our
values and system of morals.
While much of the modern world, including many,
many Jews, search for meaning and direction in their lives, a meaning and
direction over and above what the marketplace dictates, the vast majority
of the students of Torah and Talmud have a serenity and stability in life
that should be an object of envy and not of spiteful ridicule. But prejudices
and shortsightedness are omnipresent in all generations. So I imagine that
I should not be surprised by Chafets' repetition of the old worn-out question
"What's it good for?" Well, it has been good for Jewish survival for millennia
- that is essentially what it is good for. To call full-time students of
the Talmud "holy loafers" is not just bad manners and insulting condescension.
It is a complete misunderstanding and lack of appreciation of all of Jewish
history and Jewish life.
Every educational system and institution is
imperfect. There are always misfits, foul-ups and incompetents present in
every student body, faculty and educational administration. The schools of
Torah are in no way immune from problems and shortcomings. But then neither
are the universities or professional schools of this or any other country.
It should be the goal of all of our society to attempt to improve the efficiency
and performance of all of our schools and students. This includes the improvement
of the situation of all schools including the yeshivas and their students
in a financial, educational, vocational and national sense.
There is nothing to be gained from a one-sided,
bitter condemnation of the Talmud and its students. A large section of even
the secular Jewish public senses that there is a hidden, inexplicable and
valuable national treasure - the Talmud and its devoted students - that should
not be destroyed. It may be very true that many (certainly not all) of the
Talmud students are "unable to build a bridge, pull a tooth, unstop a drain
or grow a tomato." But not to worry, they will all be able to be columnists.
JWR contributor Rabbi Berel Wein is one
of Jewry's foremost historians and founder of the
Foundation. He resides in Jerusalem. You may contact
Rabbi Wein by by clicking
here or calling 1-800-499-WEIN (9346).
My first question to defenders of endless yeshivah study as an act of obedience,
worship, Jewishness, etc., is,
"what did King David beg God not to take from him?" It wasn't the
scrolls handed down to Moses or written words or oral laws (made up by men),
it was that God would not take his Spirit from him! Yes, David knew God and
his Spirit was his source of revelation, knowledge, creativity, worship,
etc. He didn't put endless study into what others wrote or said, he did his
own writing under inspiration of the Spirit.
I wonder what king David would have said about this reciting of
prayers? Apparently the Jews still prayed in their own words during the Second
Temple Period. Needing to recite shows how artificial and devoid of
input and interaction with the Holy Spirit Jewish worship has become. Not
to mention this ridiculous dovening that has developed, that surely is a
manifestation of religious spirits. It's as ridiculous as the Moslem's throwing
stones at the devil and circling around Allah's black rock! - his body
actually, since he doesn't have a human body in the person of Messiah (Maschiach
Yeshua) the God of Israel (Elohim or Gods) has - see
Soul & Spirit.
This "shallowing" with implementation of all sorts of traditions, like clothing
and head coverings must be the result of the fulfillment of the following
prophecy about the execution of Messiah:
Zech 13:7 "Awake, O sword, against
My Shepherd, Against
the Man who is My Companion,"Says the LORD of hosts."Strike the Shepherd,
And the sheep will be scattered; Then I will turn My hand against the little
King David's interaction with God resulted in
his conquering of just about all the land Israel was promised.
It was an act of obedience, of not questioning the God of Israel's authority
or justification in wanting the nations to be driven from the land he wanted
for his and his Jews' inheritance. To the contrary, Rabbis of our day don't
have that absolute conviction David had, or even the prophet Eliyah, to kill
the Baal priests, or king Josiah to destroy altars, towers (what else are
minarets or obelisks than towers?) and other objects of foreign gods. This
lack of conviction rendered the Rabbis impotent in leading the people in
an effective resistance against PM Arial Sharon's resent
treasonous abandoning of land to people who are not even a nation. In
fact, there is clear evidence that Rabbi Shlomo Aviner of the Yesha Council
(a body administering the Settlements), who was supposedly a resistance leader
against the expulsion, worked for the Shabak (Government Dept. of Internal
Security). Consequently protest actions were organized in such a way that
they were bound to fail.
Due to this lack of conviction and obedience to clear-cut laws and instructions,
this endless yeshiva studying evolved as a means to get around simple rules
and to replace them with ever growing dead legalism, a ghetto mentality and
a lack of discernment of, for instance,
The clever lie of the devil that this Allah of Islam must be the same god
as the God of Israel - since there is just one God. Ample proof is presented
Allah of Islam is not the same god and that Mohammad does not qualify to
be a prophet of the God of Israel. (See
Elohim vs. Allah,
Who is this
Islam and the Roman Connection)
It suffices to remark here, that, if it's the same God, how come he is so
unfair to let Israel win all their wars against the Muslims? This is, in
spite of the nations siding with them against Israel! In fact, we're going
to see more of this "bias" of the God of Israel
in coming days with the fulfillment of the prophecy
"In those days ten men from all languages and nations will take firm hold
of one Jew by the hem of his robe and say, `Let us go with you, because we
have heard that God is with you.'" Zechariah 8:23.
It reminds us of the Egyptian's experience in the dried up Red Sea:
He made the wheels of their chariots
come off so that they had difficulty driving. And the Egyptians said, "Let's
get away from the Israelites! The LORD is fighting for them against Egypt."
Exodus 14:25 NIV
This clever lie has tricked Israel into attempting to contravene the following
Mosaic Laws that go with the eternal promise of the Promised Land:
The principle that the spiritual restoration of the Jews goes hand in hand
with their return to Israel and the physical restoration of the land - see
And all Israel will be saved!
Handing back control of the Temple Mt. to the Waqf in 1967: I very much suspect
that the Rabbis could have prevented the action -
if they hadn't been embroiled in legalistic issues about
which places on the Mount were too holy for men to step on. Meanwhile it
is a spiritual/political principal of the land that "He who controls the
mount controls the country." Uri Tzvi Greenberg quoted by Moshe Feiglin.
Arutz-7 News: Tuesday, August 16, 2005
The future boundaries of Israel: True Biblical Zionism is to fight for
and hang on to the land promised to the Jews, like the residents of Yesha
are doing, but I don't detect a clear perception even from them of the glorious
future that lies ahead for Israel - see Factors
that should be taken into account when it comes to the borders of Israel.
From these "factors" it will be seen that the the plan to transfer the Arabs
to Jordan is flawed in the respect that Israel will still get back the east
bank of the Jordan as well.
The future of the Arabs: ... the LORD made a covenant with Abram and said,
"To your (Jewish) descendants I give this land, from
the river of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates-- the land of the Kenites,
Kenizzites, Kadmonites, Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites, Amorites, Canaanites,
Girgashites and Jebusites." Genesis 15:18-21.
All these nations have disappeared, so what chance do the so-called Palestinians,
therefore, have? They are not even a nation!
Furthermore, they, like the nations Israel was commanded to destroy in the
past, are contaminated by practices prescribed by false gods, like jihad,
honor killings, covering up women like ghosts (to protect men from their
own lust), etc. In fact, Muslims have contributed little else to the world
than dead legalism, superstition
(70 virgins, throwing stones at the devil,
etc) and the strategy of terrorism.
Secondly, when I as a non-Jew, think about the Jews, I think of them
as a super race based on what the One who created them for himself, says
"I had planted you like a choice vine of sound and
reliable stock". Jeremiah 2:21 (NIV)
The Living Bible says: "...when I planted you, I chose my seed so carefully
- the very best"
When I look at the Orthodox Jews roaming the streets of Jerusalem at times
that regular people are at work, the absolute waste occurs to me of the aptitude,
gifting and talent they are bound to have in every field one can think of.
I remember the scores of aptitude tests we had to take in our high school
days to be able to make a career choice. But these Yeshiva students are not
given that choice. Just think what a waste it would have been if Einstein
had been buried in a Yeshiva? - to study legalism that has nothing to do
with salvation or getting to know God.
In my time, becoming a minister in our church denomination was very popular
and theological seminaries turned them out in droves because it offered an
excellent career. And that was all it was for many, since very few were actually
"reborn" believers, walking in the Spirit - to have "called"
them into full-time ministry. When I met the God of Israel and committed
my life to him and started learning from him and his word, I realized that
seminary students are taught what humans say about the Bible and denominational
doctrine. I believe it's very much the case with Yeshiva study, especially
when it comes to the Talmud. There is no substitute for infusion of understanding
by God's Spirit to our spirit, and it comes from self study. One can listen
to what others say, but you have to weigh their understanding against the
testimony of the Spirit.
I perceive that Rabbinical instructions have become traditional beliefs instead
of simple Biblical truth. Of these, most importantly, that redemption can
only be via blood, not prayer and fasting as the Rabbis had ruled are sufficient
- after the destruction of the Temple.
"When I see the blood, I will pass over you" (Ex
"It is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul" (Lev 17:11)
An example of such a traditional belief is the kosher rule of not eating
milk and meat together. It for sure served the purpose of keeping Jews Jewish,
but it has no scriptural basis other than the instruction not to boil
(it does not say "not eat") a young goat in its mother's milk (Exodus 34:26).
As against this, we have Abraham who served "the Lord"
curds and milk and the calf that had been
prepared. (Genesis 18:8).
For good measure, there is also the large numbers of Haredim who smoke, and
just simply cannot be convinced that it could be wrong. Obviously it's a
contravention of the FIRST Commandment since it is an addiction, an enslavement
to another power (god) and something that's really not necessary. In the
Christian world, rebirth into a new life in the God of the Bible and smoking
just simply don't go together, and I've have seen time and again that a
resumption of smoking is the first sign of backsliding in believers. I suppose
those who don't agree will only be convinced when they enter into a New Covenant,
as in Jeremiah 31:33.
In conclusion, what's it with this pre-occupation
with graves and bones of the Haredim?
Is it forefather worship...?
Humbly for Zion's sake.