Torah Study

Who Makes More; a Shoemaker or a Shoe Factory Owner?

There was a Kollel called Midrash Zion who had an Executive Director named Rabbi Yitzchak Rosenthal. This rabbi once came to consult with Rabbi Isser Zalman Meltzer about if he should quit administrating (fundraising for) the Kollel since he himself became more financially stable and he could now sit and learn undisturbed.

Rabbi Meltzer listened to Rabbi Rosenthal and said; “You can do what you want but I’d like to tell you a story. There was once an Executive Director of the Yeshiva in Slutzk for a few years who decided to leave fundraising and become a Rabbi. He didn’t want to speak with me about it (Rabbi Meltzer was a Rosh Yeshiva in Slutzk) so he went to the Chafetz Chaim. He told the Chafetz Chaim that as a fundraiser he was always weary from traveling all day. He found it difficult to pray with concentration since he would sometimes think about the future donor or philanthropist he would meet that day. Needless to say he really had no time to learn Torah. So he wanted to leave this tiring job and be able to sit down undisturbed and learn Torah as a Rabbi of a quiet village as he did before accepting this tiring and distracting job.”

“The Chafetz Chaim listened to the question and blessed him with success. The man proceeded to the door and the Chafetz Chaim called out to him: “How much does a pair of shoes cost?” The man said “I haven’t bought shoes in a while so I’m not sure but I imagine it’s about such and such…” He took leave of the Chafetz Chaim and at the door the Chafetz Chaim again called out to him: “What are the shoemaker’s costs to make a pair of shoes?”

The man answered: “I have no idea, I was never a shoemaker?” The Chafetz Chaim persisted and asked “But please let’s estimate the costs together, I’m sure we’ll come up with something that makes sense.” They estimated the costs a shoemaker has to make a pair of shoes. The man again took leave of the Chafetz Chaim and the Chafetz Chaim again called out to him: “Can you only buy shoes at the shoemaker or are there other sources to buy shoes?”

The man answered; “Indeed there are factory made shoes and you don’t need to buy specifically from a shoemaker.” When the man was about to leave again the Chafetz Chaim called out to him: “Can you tell me which are more expensive the factory made shoes or the handmade shoemaker shoes?” The man answered: “Of course the handmade shoes are more expensive than factory made shoes.” The Chafetz Chaim then asked: “Then it must be that the shoemaker is wealthier than the shoe factory owner since he charges more? Is this really true?” The man answered: “The factory owner is wealthier since he manufactures and sells a great amount of shoes so in the end the shoemaker earns less though his shoes are more expensive.”

Now the Chafetz Chaim began to explain to the man what he was getting at. “If this is true, I want you to pay attention to what I’m going to tell you. If you want to do for yourself and stop fundraising to live a tranquil life with a clear mind to learn Torah, it’s true your prayers and your learning will be better. But if you look at your fundraising with a broader outlook and consider how many young men learn Torah and pray because of your efforts and your holy work as a fundraiser you’ll understand that you are doing far more for the Torah and fear of G-d than if you just pray and learn on your own peacefully. It’s true your prayer and learning will be on a higher level if you do it on your own but your merit in Torah and prayer is far greater when you support all the students learning and praying. You are the factory owner… you should continue to fundraise and your merit in heaven will be great.”

Story courtesy of Dirshu


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