Masa v'matan

Going to Work

By Rabbi Julian Sinclair, January 13, 2011

After fixing time for Torah study, the classic halachic codes say that you should go to work. To quote the Shulchan Aruch, "Afterwards, he should go to his business, because all Torah study that is not combined with work will eventually be negated and lead to sin, for poverty takes a person away from knowledge of his Creator" (Orach Chaim 156:1). There is no mitzvah to be poor. For most people, a balanced and sustainable spiritual life includes working in the world. 

For most people, that is. Historically, halachic sources have recognised that there is a small group of exceptionally talented and motivated scholars for whom full-time Torah study is a viable and praiseworthy lifestyle (assuming, of course, that there are people willing to pay for it). The situation pertaining in Israel today, where full-time Torah study is the prevalent social norm among the Charedi population, is exceptional  in Jewish history. Today, the government and large parts of Charedi society are wising up to the reality that this cannot go on indefinitely.

Last updated: 10:56am, January 13 2011