Torah Sage Advises: Hold Onto Both Your Kidneys

KidneysThis post first appeared in Frum Follies in January 2010 when the late Rabbi Yosef Sholom Elyashiv was still alive and active.

Rabbi Elyashiv recently advised a father not to sell his kidney to marry off his daughter. Instead he suggested a cheaper wedding. While Rabbi Elyashiv is respected for his wisdom on matters such as Indian sheitals, service in the Knesset and elevators, there is widespread consternation about this most recent ruling. The daughters of Israel are weeping. The entire Haredi kollel system is a massive pyramid scheme. One couple has many children, all of whom must be supported by parents and in-laws. The first beneficiaries depended on an older generation of shvach employed yidn with small families. These parents were persuaded that the stuff about teaching your children a livelihood was just for chiloni taxpayers. Of course the parents themselves were exempted because it was too late for them to start learning full-time and their money was going to a worthy cause.

So far so good but now the children themselves have enormous families, no earnings other than kollel subsidies, government subsidies, and whatever they can drain out of their parents. Up to a point, gemachs and other loans kept the business going, though the debt burden kept on rising. Now the next generation is demanding even more from its thoroughly non-earning parents who are deep in hock.

Some clever guy comes along and says; let parents sell their kidneys to buy their kids apartments. This is not much of a solution when a couple has only 2 spare kidneys and 12 kids. Unless of course! Eureka! Let’s ban religious Jews from accepting Indian or other non-Jewish organs. In fact, let’s ban organ transplants from non-religious Jews, or cadavers or from anyone except a frum Jew whose kidney is being sold to support Torah. In Israel this can be written into law by Haredim who go to the House of Idolatry (i.e., the Knesset) and bargain for their constituents.

There is still the problem that Rabbi Elyashiv spoke against selling kidneys. As always, a kollel supporter finds a way around. A whispering campaign starts that Rabbi Elyashiv was misled into believing that the kidney was going to be sold for less than the price of an apartment in Jerusalem. Perhaps someone who has cornered the kidney market and was trying to keep out competitors misled Rabbi Elyashiv. Another explanation is that Rabbi Elyashiv wasn’t aware that the kidneys are sold to pay for apartments, not weddings.

Some old timers remember the simple weddings in the yishuv back when Rabbi Elyashiv was married and shake their heads at the thought of weddings costing an arm and a leg or a kidney. The youngsters admonish the oldsters not to be like Reform Jews who violate the minhag yisroel which includes the complete chosson and kallah package. They also point out the Rabbi Elyashiv himself would do it differently if he had it to do over. He certainly wouldn’t let himself be married again by a Zionist rabbi like Abraham Isaac Kook, and then settle for a simple repast with his poor father-in-law, Reb Aryeh Levin, who never owned his own apartment and spent time with criminals.


3 thoughts on “Torah Sage Advises: Hold Onto Both Your Kidneys

  1. This piece is brilliant. Superlative. I know I’ve written machmaot before, but this reprint, (new post for me) reaches new heights. Thank you YL.

  2. Even Avraham Avinu spent 10 years in jail (Bava Basra 91a)- something that our Hassidic brethren aim to emulate on a regular basis. (I’m sure that there is a rishon who said that it was for tax evasion.)
    On a more serious note, none of the “rebbies” of yesteryear had a 10 inch high shtreimel. Maybe these yerushalmis should consider going “old school” with their head-gear?

    • Yes, I remember the 4″ high streimel of the first Satmar Rebbe (Yoelish) when I saw him. Apparently, as Yoelish himself once observed, frumkeit is hard in America, but being more frum is easy.

See Commenting policy ( )

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s