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Does anyone know of any specific sources in Chazal or Rishonim (or even earlier achronim) that indicate that l'chatchila all Jewish males should learn full time forever? I know that this is the opinion of R' Shiman Bar Yochai in Berachos, but the conclusion of that gemara seems to be that most people should not go in this direction. There is also the opinion of R' Nehorai at the end of Kidushin, but I don't know if there is any indication that this is how we poskin. Also, I'm not sure that his opinion is necessarily the same idea.

Someone told me that the Nefesh HaChaim says this, but I couldn't find it.

This is a very prevalent strain of thought in the charedi world, especially in Israel. I was just wondering if anyone knows any sources that back this up, especially since there are many sources that seem to go against this, like the aforementioned gemara in berachos, the mishna in Avos - "yafe Torah im derech eretz" - which all the rishonim I've seen on it (Rashi, the Rambam, Rabbeinu Yonah, Rav Ovadiah m'Bartenura) say that it means that it is good to work for a living.

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sb, Welcome to mi.yodeya, and thanks very much for the important question! Please consider editing your question to fully cite and preferably link to your sources and to use less Hebrew jargon, per lo.yodeya.com/2010/01/guidelines-jargon.html. I think this question could be interesting to a wide audience, including many who may not understand all of the terms you use. –  Isaac Moses Apr 8 '10 at 15:41
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Once upon a time, the Rabbis made this silly assumption that people feel shame when begging and living off of community funds instead of working for themselves... –  avi Dec 18 '11 at 17:06
    
Related: judaism.stackexchange.com/q/28500 –  msh210 May 6 '13 at 15:23
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7 Answers

The Gemara does not give a conclusive p'sak. It just says that many did like RASHBI and were not successful. It does not imply that the other approach was overruled either. The impression it gives is that the choice is up to the individual, but if he chooses like Rabi Shimon then he better really be committed and there are no guarantees that he will be able to see it through.

As far as Nefesh HaChaim goes, in Shaar Dalet he definitely says statements to the effect that it should be all learning all the time however I have heard from my Rebbeim (many of them as Chareidi as can be) that he was writing for a certain audience who are willing to commit to such a level of existence.

This all fits with the cave story as well.

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See this link:

http://hirhurim.blogspot.com/2008/09/careers-and-professions.html

Also see M"B in Biur Halacha (231 d.h. Bachol) where he discusses how these days are different from the days of the Rambam and how that impacts on this question.

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that link looks like its discussing what career to do, not whether to get one –  Ariel K Dec 18 '11 at 0:15
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It would be really helpful if you could write a two-sentence summary of that link. –  Shmuel L Dec 18 '11 at 5:43
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Clearly the Rambam in Hilchos Talmud Torah (perek 3 halacha 10), which essentially concludes as Rabban Gamliel b'no shel Rabbi Yehuda HaNassi: kol torah she-eyn imo melocha sofah betaylo etc.

What was instituted in Yerushalayim initially was the same as assarah batlonim, who learned for the whole city. Because there were few talmidey chachomim in America, the yeshivos instituted kollelim. However, to say that this is the way for the rabbim (community at large) is incorrect. Those who can become rabbonim or roshey yeshiva should be given some time to reach proficiency, the rest should get a job. The situation is untenable with impoverishing people institutionally without recourse because they feel inadequate. Instead they should be taught harbey assu ke-Rabbi Yishmoe-l ve-olso beyodom.

There is a letter from Rambam to his most gifted talmid, Rav Yossef ibn Shimon, for whom he wrote the Moreh. Essentially he told him to remain practicing medicine and not become a rosh yeshiva! How would this teshuva go over in certain circles? The Gemoreh in Kiddushin concludes that although one has to learn a trade for parnossa - if he can, it is best to have a trade associated with Talmud Torah, such as becoming a rebbe a maggid shiur ,a mohel a shochet etc...

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It isn't necessary to yell. Would you please rewrite your response without the entire thing being in caps? Thanks. –  Zvi Jun 23 '11 at 16:28
    
In addition, please consider breaking your text up into manageable paragraphs. The big block of all caps is very hard to read. –  Isaac Moses Jun 23 '11 at 16:38
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I took care of it. @chaim moshe – We look forward to hearing from you! Taking some time to properly format your answers will enable them to be fully appreciated by the community. –  Dave Jun 23 '11 at 17:10
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An evolving 'kula' of 'es l'asos' that may have gone too far...

It does not seem to have much precedent in earlier sources. Chazal seem to be against the idea of even a rabbi receiving money for learning or teaching torah, and the Rambam ruled accordingly. Other rishonim and achronim said that it was necessary in their times for a rabbi to receive money for the continuation of Torah (they also argued on the interpretation of certain gemaros). A similar explanation was used more recently to justify kollelim, where people are paid to learn torah. In Israel, this system grew to encompass the majority of haredi men. It is unclear what justification there is for this system to continue with such large numbers, and it is not sustainable in the long-term. Some haredim feel the system needs to change. For example, Jonathan Rosenblum, who is a spokesman for Haredi Jewry, said:

After every catastrophic event that destroys the previous equilibrium, there is a pendulum swings until a new equilibrium is found. Let us take one contemporary example. The period between the beginning of World War I and end of World War II completely destroyed a European Jewish civilization built over nearly two millennia. In order to rebuild the entire world of Torah learning destroyed by the Nazis, Rabbi Aharon Kotler in the United States and the Chazon Ish in Eretz Yisrael declared a societal ideal of long-term Torah study for all males that had few precedents in Jewish history. The pendulum swung in one direction, as part of the rebuilding.

As the original small flock of dedicated idealists who rallied to the banner of Reb Aharon and the Chazon Ish has miraculously swelled today to an entire community of hundreds of thousands, encompassing a wide range of abilities and spiritual levels, the pendulum has begun to swing in the other direction in search of a new equilibrium...

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מסכתות קטנות מסכת סופרים פרק טז

הלכה א ר' נהוראי אומר מניח אני את כל האומניות שבעולם, ואני מלמד את בניי תורה, שאדם אוכל משכרה בעולם הזה, והקרן קיימת לו לעולם הבא, ושאר כל האומניות אינן כן, שאם יכנס אדם לידי חולי או לידי זקנה או ליד מדה של ייסורין, ואינו יכול לעסוק במלאכתו, הרי הוא מת ברעב, אבל התורה אינה כן, אלא משמרתו מכל רע בנערותו, ונותנת לו אחרית ותקוה בזקנותו, בנערותו מהו אומר, וקוי י"י יחליפו כח יעלו אבר כנשרים ירוצו ולא ייגעו ילכו ולא ייעפו, בזקנותו מהו אומר, עוד ינובון בשיבה דשינים ורעננים יהיו.

הלכה ב אמר ר' יהושוע בן לוי הדא אגדתא הכותבה אין לו חלק לעולם הבא, והדורשה מתחרך, והשומעה אינו מקבל שכר.

In summary, the first paragraph says how wonderful it is to avoid all worldly pursuits and focus on Torah always. The second paragraph claims that anyone who teaches over the first paragraph loses his share in the World to Come.

The text is from Tractate Sofrim, a minor tractate finalized in the 8th Century.

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Maybe you shouldn't have posted this, then.... –  msh210 Dec 22 '11 at 16:09
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I'm not sure that הדא אגדתא necessarily means "this aggadata" (i.e., the one just mentioned). In many places in the Yerushalmi and other texts written in the Eretz Yisrael dialect of Aramaic, הדא is simply a definite article (examples include Yer. Berachos 1:1, הדא כוכבתא, and 2:8, הדא תאינה). So Halachah 2 may simply be starting a new train of thought: "R. Yehoshua ben Levi says, regarding aggadata, that anyone who writes it..." –  Alex Mar 11 '12 at 21:34
    
@Alex So you want to say that RYBL is opposed to teaching any agadata at all? –  Double AA Apr 2 '12 at 1:16
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@DoubleAA: Higger (in his edition of Maseches Soferim) suggests that RYBL might be talking specifically about heretical works containing various aggados. The other possibility (per Korban HaEdah to Yerushalmi Shabbos 16:1) is that the second and third clauses of RYBL's statement are referring specifically to a written text of aggadah (as in the first clause), not to someone who delivers a lecture on it orally or attends such a lecture. –  Alex Apr 2 '12 at 17:24
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Yallut Yosef (156:1) holds that it is better to learn all day and get a salary from the Yeshiva or Kolel than to work and learn a few hours a day. He brings Rabbi Haim BenAtar to support him (Rishon Lesion 246:21). As well as the Maharsha"l (Yam, Hullin 3:9).

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Sorry MOD's about this. –  Hacham Gabriel Mar 12 '12 at 0:14
    
@HachamGabriel, was that you also? Do you want a merge? –  Isaac Moses Mar 12 '12 at 1:03
    
I'm not exactly sure how this happened. I thought I signed in (I was using an Ipod touch). If possible, I will merge. –  Hacham Gabriel Mar 12 '12 at 1:04
    
Thanks @IsaacMoses –  Hacham Gabriel Mar 12 '12 at 14:32
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As I understand it the conclusion of the Gemara which you mention is a concession to the difficulties of such a path, not a disagreement that l'chatchilla one should devote oneself to learning.

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Where do you see from the Gemara that l'chatchilla one should devote oneself to (only) learning? –  Yahu Apr 9 '10 at 1:45
    
It's more a matter that the Gemara treats the alternative as a pragmatic issue rather than an ideal, כנ"ל –  Yirmeyahu Apr 9 '10 at 4:32
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Maybe pragmatic is ideal! –  Yahu Apr 14 '10 at 6:24
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