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June 15, 2014 / conservadox

Dvar Torah- Korach

This coming week’s Torah portion ends with the tithes due to Levites (Num. 18)- seemingly a noncontroversial subject compared to the main subject of the portion (Korach’s rebellion).  But recently, I was part of an argument centering on this defunct system.

Many of Israeli’s hareidi males do not work, and instead live off the state’s welfare system.  One day after morning minyan, as I and my fellow worshippers were drinking a little coffee, someone defended the status quo on the ground that haredim, like the Levites, learn Torah and are supported by the rest of the population.  But as Scharfstein notes, the Levites did not merely learn Torah all day; they worked for the community in all kinds of ways, teaching Torah, guarding the Tabernacle (and later the Temple), and singing prayers and playing musical instruments at the Temple and guarding the Temple.  (Scharfstein also says they served as doctors, but I have not heard this elsewhere so I am not sure where he gets it front).    In short, the Levites were the community’s security guards, entertainers, and Torah teachers.

I’m not sure how many of these roles Israel’s haredim have taken on; some of them obviously teach Torah, but then again so do many people who are not on the public dole.   So the analogy seems to me to be a questionable one.


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