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May 22, 2014 / conservadox

Dvar Torah- Bamidbar

The book of Bamidbar (Numbers) is about the Jews’ journey through the wilderness (or perhaps the desert). In his comment at the beginning of the portion, Scharfstein notes that according to a midrash, the Torah was given through fire, water and desert, and that all these things are free- just as the Torah is “free and available for those who are thirsty for [Divine] blessings.”

By contrast, I have often heard it claimed that it is expensive to be a Jew, because of synagogue dues, day school tuition, etc.  It doesn’t seem to me that this should be the case- and I’m not completely sure that it is.  Admittedly, private school tuition is a big problem for Jews, but only because of a unique-to-America problem: the government has engaged in predatory pricing, by giving out  free secular education for everyone willing to sacrifice their children’s religion on the altar of blending in.  (By contrast, in Europe and Israel, government subsidizes private religious education as well as government-run secular schools). 

But in some respects, it may be more economical to be a Jew.  The need to live in a neighborhood with synagogues etc.  frees one from the temptation to buy the biggest, more expensive house in the most elite neighborhood or suburb.  And there are little benefits too.  Last week, I went to a dance recital, and watched my niece dance around in outfits of varying (but low) levels of modesty.  If her parents had been more frum, they would not have even allowed her to take dance lessons (since I don’t think right-wing Orthodoxy allows girls to dance in front of men).  One less expense! And because in frum areas, all the schools are pretty close to each other, children still walk to school. 

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  1. Shira Salamone / May 23 2014 2:15 pm

    “If her parents had been more frum, they would not have even allowed her to take dance lessons (since I don’t think right-wing Orthodoxy allows girls to dance in front of men). One less expense!”

    So some Orthodox Jews won’t let their daughters study the performing arts, and you think this is a *good* way to save money?! As a former ballet student and current Israeli folk dancer, I protest. There are far better ways of saving money than by restricting the artistic expressions of females just because we’re female.

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