Friday, February 08, 2013

Who Would Rabbeinu Tam Vote For

In the recent election campaign, one of the parties (who were not elected to Knesset) ran a campaign asking who Rambam would vote for. The implications of the ad were:
1. Rambam is in favour of learning Torah AND working (and by extension serving the country/army/being a productive member of society)
2. (Not stated but implied) Other Rishonim disagree with Rambam, and he is therefore perhaps a minority opinion.

Rambam writes:

כל המשים על ליבו שיעסוק בתורה ולא יעשה מלאכה, ויתפרנס מן הצדקה--הרי זה חילל את השם, וביזה את התורה, וכיבה מאור הדת, וגרם רעה לעצמו, ונטל חייו מן העולם הבא: לפי שאסור ליהנות בדברי תורה, בעולם הזה.

אמרו חכמים, כל הנהנה מדברי תורה, נטל חייו מן העולם. ועוד ציוו ואמרו, לא תעשם עטרה להתגדל בהם, ולא קורדום לחפור בהם. ועוד ציוו ואמרו, אהוב את המלאכה, ושנוא את הרבנות. וכל תורה שאין עימה מלאכה, סופה בטילה; וסוף אדם זה, שיהא מלסטס את הברייות.
מעלה גדולה היא למי שהוא מתפרנס ממעשה ידיו, ומידת חסידים הראשונים היא; ובזה זוכה לכל כבוד וטובה שבעולם הזה, ולעולם הבא: שנאמר "יגיע כפיך, כי תאכל; אשריך, וטוב לך" (תהילים קכח,ב)--"אשריך" בעולם הזה, "וטוב לך" לעולם הבא שכולו טוב.

Or in English

Anybody who undertakes to learn Torah all the time, not work, and support himself from charity is desecrating God's Name, disgracing the Torah, extinguishes his Jewish spark, causes bad to befall him and destroys his life in the World To Come, for it is forbidden to benefit from Torah matters in this world. The Sages said that anyone who does benefit from Torah matters is destroying his life, and they further commanded one not to make a garland with which to glorify oneself, nor an axe with which to dig. Furthermore, one should like one's work and dislike being a rabbi. Any Torah which one studies without working at is worthless, and causes punishment. A man who acts like this will become a bandit.


It is certainly true that the Kesef Mishna disagrees strongly with Rambam (See Hilchot Talmud Torah 3:10)

However, Rambam's view is not only the view of the Talmud, but also of many other Rishonim.

Perhaps the Rishon who is the furthest from Rambam in terms of science/philosophy is Rabbeinu Tam (probably all of the baalei Tosefot, but Rabbeinu Tam is the architect of that school). So, who would he vote for?

23. Tosefot Yeshanim Yoma 85b s.v. Teshuva (bottom of the page of Gemara, second line)
מה שרגיל רבינו יעקב לומר דתלמוד תורה טפל לגבי דרך ארץ מדקתני יפה תלמוד תורה עם דרך ארץ (אבות ב:ב) אלמא דרך ארץ עיקר.
What Rabbeinu Yaakov used to always say, that Torah study is secondary to derech eretz, since it says "Torah study is nice with derech eretz (Avot 2:2) which implies that derech eretz is primary.

"Rabbeinu Yaakov" mentioned here is none other than Rabbeinu Tam himself (if you don't believe me, look at Hagahot Maimoniot on Hilchot Talmud Torah 3:10)

And what does Derech Eretz mean? Certainly it means making a constructive contribution to society, and probably means working (Rabbeinu Tam himself made his living from lending money to non-Jews with interest and dealing in wine)
So, who would Rabbeinu Tam vote for?

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