Apr 28, 2008

keep their salaries low

The following is a clipping from a special holiday section that was in the Yated Ne'eman in honor of Pesach.

The paper interviewed Rav Kessler, the Rav of Modiin Ilit. The question came up about the city having the reputation as a "City with no Parnassah", and the phenomenon of the businesses that have opened up in the area that employ the wives of the avreichim in Modiin Ilit (such as Matrix, Citybook, etc.).

The clipping above gives Rav Kesslers explanation of the situation.

Rav Kessler says, "What we have here in Modiin Ilit, is a quality community with a calm atmosphere of people who moved here to have a different quality of life than that in the big cities. Even though the city has 40,000 residents, the atmosphere is not of a city, but of a village. A more quiet and calm lifestyle.

Our lifestyle that is lower than that of the big cities, is not just because there is no money. Rather, that is the ideal lifestyle of a community that makes do with the minimum ("mistapek b'muat"), and this is how it should be. When the business center for women was established, Rav Michel Yehuda Lefkowitz said that we should be careful not to allow the salaries to get too high.
There are two reason why the salaries should be controlled so as not to get too high:
  1. So the lifestyle will not get too high
  2. So the husband will remain the "maan d'amar" of the house (the man of the house, the one whose voice counts).
It seems to me to be a tremendous chutzpah that you create a society in which everyone is a beggar and eating off the public dime (this is not an attack on the kollel system, just on the forcing of the situation in a community), you force the women to work because the bills cannot be paid, and you then condition their employment on them making barely more than minimum wage so the bills still cannot be paid.

I learned from my Rebbeim and mentors, that the ideal of "pas b'melach tochal" - following the ideal set in the mishna of eating bread with salt and all the other specifics mentioned in the mishna that detail the ideal of living a life of making do with the bare minimum, that is an ideal for an individual person to strive for.

I, as a person who wants to grow and reach that level, can have the ideal and drive to attain the level of making do with the minimum.

It is not an ideal that was ever meant to be forced on other people or demanded of from other people.

You should try to live a life making do with "l'histapek b'muat" but you have no right to demand that of other people.

To create a situation in which women are practically forced out to go to work, and all the conditions are prepared to allow them to do so under terms that are acceptable for the community standards, just to have money for basic necessities, and then limit them because you want to impose upon them your ideal, is practically criminal.

And the second reason given - so that the husband will remain the man of the house! If he wants to be the man of the house, and the wife working is a threat to that, let him go do the job of the man of the house and provide for his family.

If they really respect the life of the husband learning Torah, why should her working detract from his being the man of the house? She should not lose respect for him just because she earns more than him - after all, they know that he is learning and that is the most important thing, so her salary should not effect his losing respect in her eyes. So that he can "be the man of the house, she has to leave her kids with babysitters, go to work in an environment that they have started off declaring as "b'dieved", and then they create the situation where financially it is hardly worth it for her to go to work!

The real result of this is, and I do not know how much it happens or not, is that many of these women will work in these companies for a bit of time. They will eventually get frustrated that they are out of the house so many hours, bringing home very little for their efforts, and they will take their experience and look for jobs elsewhere, in companies that are elsewhere. they will take jobs in these companies for more competitive salaries.
And then all these women who they wanted to keep from being exposed to the general public while providing the ability to provide for their families, will now have been forced, because of this policy, to be exposed to the secular society they were trying to avoid.

So, basically, the goal is to keep them uneducated (it is assur for them to get a higher education outside of Bais Yaakov after high school) and under-salaried.


  1. At least for the first few years after I got married (and maybe until pretty recently, I stopped checking), my wife was earning more than I was. It was never an issue, and I was still "man of the house" (especially when it came to killing our six-legged friends). I think it's because of the value that we placed on money, and the perspective in which we kept it.

    If a woman earning more money than her husband gets as a hand-out would diminish his role as being "man of the house", then perhaps there is something wrong with the man's (or woman's) perspective when it comes to values in general, and money specifically. A sad statement about a community which prides itself in its religious observance.

  2. My husband makes more than me, but that has absolutely no effect on how big and small decisions are made in the house. He doesn't get "the last word" because of his tlush (pay stub). We are equal partners in all decision making. He is in charge of killing large and small bugs, but if I left the running of the house up to him, we'd be lost pretty fast.

    Rafi, i have trouble with your caveat of "(this is not an attack on the kollel system, just on the forcing of the situation in a community)". Because there have been numerous kol korehs in the past few years about GDs forbidding women from getting BAs so they can make more money, forbidding women from going to job training colleges yet no kk's telling men it's time to go and work.

    This particular rabbi's attitude is prevalent throughout the charedi community and it's what helps make J-m and Bnei Brak the two poorest cities in Israel. So how can you disagree with this guy and not with the kollel system in general?

  3. Interesting reflection of real world human nature concerns.

    If in fact the wages are being kept below market , and the families are receiving governmwent subsidies which would be reduced by higher salaries, the result economically is a boon to the employer at the cost of the government (and the family if it would not be a dollar for dollar offset)

    In the immortal words of Deep Throat "Follow the money"

    Joel Rich

  4. Are your sure the companies aren't kicking something in to his "kupat" charoty or pocket. what a scam for the businesses. ha- we can pay you less because the ideal is to be poor.


  5. Rafi,

    I would like to refer to one of your previous blogs wherein I stated that in the chareedi community one should not be suprised that women are subserviant to men. Women are catagorized as second class citizens by the Charedi and Torah viewpoint. This post simply confirms, again, the obviousness of womens places in the charedi world.

  6. Another upsetting example of the disrespect shown to women by so many of our rabbanim.

  7. abbi - 1. I wrote that because I did not want this post to end up being about the kolel system. I said ti is not an attack on the kollel system but it is also not agreeing with the system. yes, there are problems with the kollel system. But I did not want that to become the discussion.

    2. this is not a problem with the general kollel system. It is a problem in Modiin Ilit. In yerushalayim and Bnei Brak and in other places, this problem does not exist. The women work wherever they want and get paid salaries base don their skills and the market value. Only in Modiin Ilit did they set up a workplace specifically for the wives of avreichim, and lechatchila condition the employment on low salaries.

    shaya - they very well might be. Another point that I did not mention, is that while this Rav is limiting their salaries for the ideal of "l'histapek b'muat", he is collecting the salary from the government for his city rabbi position of over 20,000NIS per month which is a very respectable salary. Plus perks (apt rent is paid for, plus he owns an apt in Bnei brak (where they brought him in from) that he rents out for extra income, plus a driver, plus an assistant, etc.
    I do not begrudge him his salary and work benefits, but it seems a bit hypocritical that he insists other to be mistapek b'muat while he makes himself a decent living.

    Dan - I don't know if ti is the same thing. Everybody has their role and place. Just because according to their definition the man is supposed to be the "maan d'amar" does not mean the woman is subservient (it does not mean she is not, but I do not think it is connected). The woman has other roles in which she is more important than the man. It just happens to be in this role the man is more important.

  8. Wow. Just wow. I'm blown away. This is horrifying.

  9. what is modiin ilit?

    how can rbs, bene brak, modiin ilit, etc. run a munipality if there is no real local tax base? (or are municpalities all funded by the central government and there is no local taxes?)

  10. this is ridiculous...and the shocking thing is, the people are agreeing to this. Throughout History people fought there dictators to prevent poverty, these people are totally ok with it... so sad! and so very terrible!

    Terrible terrible!!

  11. LOZ - Modiin Ilit is the name of the Haredi city that has taken over what used to be Kiryat Sefer. Across from Kiryat Sefer a new settlement was built (initially called Achuzat Brachfeld). When that got much bigger than Kiryat Sefer was, it became a city and encompassed Kiryat Sefer as well. It is just outside of regular Modiin.

    RBS is not a municipality. It is a neighborhood of Bet Shemesh. Bet Shemesh is not a Haredi city (despite its large percentage of Haredi residents - coming close to 50%) and therefore does not have that problem. Most people, even just in RBS, work. many learn, but most work.

  12. Note:

    Rabbi Kessler receives a salary of 20,000 NIS per month for being the Rabbi of Kiryat Sefer.

    I have verified this with someone on the Moatza Hadatit over there.

    The lesson: Kessler is just another hypocritical bastard. Make nothing of him

    - The Real Mora D'asra

  13. mora d'asra - are you also the mora d'asra of modiin ilit? :-)
    and didn't I say that a few comments ago? BTW, the 20,000 nis salary is not including the perks.

  14. "Rabbi Kessler receives a salary of 20,000 NIS per month for being the Rabbi of Kiryat Sefer"
    Maybe we should have women rabbis so we could pay them less...

    Seriously, one can argue with histapkut bemuat as individual way or for the klal.I see here the problem rather in the paradox of charedi life: striving for histapkut bemuat but at the same time need to buy an apartment, placing a burden on the parents. With a higher level of income for the women, the young couple could more easily contribute to the payment of loans and burden less the parents.
    As a parent of married children, I can tell you that many serious bocherim want davka a wife with a good income. They know that they will need it.The shitta of buying a flat will not change so quickly.
    Not making ends meet is not histapkut bemuat.
    Davka in the chardal tsibbur, many seem to live according to this ideal, by living in some yishuv with little gashmius.

  15. I'm sorry, making these statements while being paid 20,000 shekel a month (when the average salary is around 5,000 shekel per month) is the height of sickness.

    Rafi, I understand that you didn't want this to turn into an "Attack the kollel system" post. Unfortunately, the post still illustrates yet another problematic symptom of this charedi insistence on learning instead of working.

  16. Clap, clap! Well written (and shocking!) blog post. Wow, I can only imagine the reaction of the American public if this were an American official who made such comments to the media here in the US! He would be ripped to shreds.

    The community sounds very beautiful in its own way, and the idea of companies hiring a female workforce is wonderful - but to blatantly limit salaries in order that they should retain the simple life and so their husband's can feel in control?

    Why not poll the families affected and ask them what salary heights they can "tolerate?" I am sure the figure would be eye opening to those in favor of limits! ;)

    BTW - I saw your mommy at the ice cream store today! :)


Related Posts

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...