Monday, January 26, 2015

Supporting Torah scholars


"Rav Dimi of Neherdaa brought dried figs by boat. The Exilarch said to Rava: Go and see; if he is a young scholar, set up the market for him."

(Talmud, Bava Batra 22a; this is quoted by Rabbi Moshe Isserles, Shut Rama 10, as a legal obligation)

Have a great day,


  1. I feel forced to add to the subject line:
    ... by allowing the scholar to earn a living with east and enough time to learn.

    Notably, the reish gelusa notably didn't tell Rava to support Rav Dimi so that he could be a talmid chakham full time. And more so, he didn't advise supporting men who weren't yet scholars so that they can become talmidei chakhamim.

    However, perhaps if Rav Dimi gave any indication of wanting to teach, the reish gelusa would have asked if he was a skilled teacher, and might have told Rava to find a way for Rav Dimi support himself teaching. As it is, a talmid chakham who sells figs likely doesn't think of himself as a skilled a teacher, so we cannot derive anything from the story about the reish gedlusa's opinion of community kollels.

    1. 1. I'm not sure why you assume that "a talmid chakham who sells figs likely doesn't think of himself as a skilled teacher".

      2. Who said anything about community kollels? I was thinking in terms of the preference for giving business to someone who is immersed in Torah.

  2. I went in a different direction.... focusing on "giving business" rather than supporting the talmid chakham so that he doesn't need to go into business. I would deduce from this that the reish galusa wasn't a fan of kolel.

    Then I was thinking, given who I am responding to... can we deduce that this would also include teaching kollelim, as opposed to paying someone purely to learn?

    My conclusion was no. Because R Dimi wasn't trying to teach. In fact, his choice of making money at selling figs could well imply he didn't think he would make a good teacher. Perhaps "likely" is an overstatement, but my point was that the situation leaned against assuming R' Dimi could and wanted to make money teaching. PERHAPS, if R' Dimi didn't already have another business set up, the reish galusa would have told Rava to make sure R' Dimi should be able to teach full time rather than go into retail.