Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Judaism On Work

Luke Ford writes:

I remember Conservative rabbi Harold Kushner, in a public dialogue with Dennis Prager, said that Jews had the so-called Protestant work ethic thousands of years before there were Protestants.

Is work a Jewish value?

I’m looking at the Artscroll Stone Chumash on Numbers 22:21: “Surely it was not fitting for a man of Balaam’s stature to saddle his own donkey.”

I notice that attitude a lot in rabbinic literature — that physical work is beneath a man of stature.

This is not an American attitude. Americans think work is ennobling. I remember working in construction and the multi-millionaire boss would often pitch in and get dirty working with us. That’s the American way. We don’t think it is undignified to saddle your own donkey.

Rabbi Rabbs: “America is built on the Protestant work ethic. If you want to be Godly, you have to work. That’s not necessarily the Jewish way. The Jewish way is learning all the time. Judaism doesn’t value working. You can even look at it as a distraction from learning.”

Luke: “The same commandment that says we should not work on the Sabbath says that six days a week we should work.”

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