Jun 29, 2010

Do You Want to Become a Truck Driver?

A woman wrote a letter to Hamodia magazine complaining about an article in which a rebbi, wanting to spur on his class to learn, rhetorically asked them, "Do you want to become truck drivers?"

The woman's husband is a truck driver and so of course she took offense at her husband's source of livelihood being regarded derogatorily and used as a negative example of what would become of the children if they didn't shteig in learning.  What would a child of a truck driver feel if he was in that teacher's class? She went on to say that her husband earned an honest living and used his truck to do chesed too.

Yaakov, upon fleeing from Esav, put a circle of rocks around his head.  The question is asked, if he was afraid and wanted to protect himself, what about the rest of his body? If he relied on Hashem, then why surround his head and if he did not want to rely on supernatural intervention, then he should have protected his entire body!

The pasuk in Tehillim 128:2 says, "yigi'a kapecha ki sochel ..." - when you eat the labor of your hands, you will be happy and it shall be well with you.  You can earn a living in one of two ways, by doing manual labor which leaves your head free to be involved with Torah or by using your head so that you are completely involved in earning a living.  The pasuk is telling us that when you work with your hands, leaving your head for other things, it will be good for you both spiritually and materially.

When Yaakov left for Charan he knew that he would have to deal with the crooked Lavan and there were "wild animals" to contend with even before he got there.  So he put stones around his head to demonstrate that his mind is off-limits.  The head must be protected.

Jews take great pride, and rightfully so, in our intellectual accomplishments.  We are represented in fields of intellectual endeavor in numbers that way exceed our actual physical numbers.  For many of us, white collar jobs are the goal to strive for and not only because many of them provide good salaries but because as intellectual people, it is beneath us to work with our hands. 

This is a modern day phenomenon since there were numerous Ashkenazic Jews in Europe who worked with their hands for a living being tailors and shoemakers and numerous Sefardic Jews who worked as silversmiths and in other crafts.  We have stories of how some recited Mishnayos or Tehillim as they worked.

And yet, try presenting a shidduch idea of a man who is a plumber or electrician or in construction as compared to someone who is an accountant, lawyer or architect ...  Perhaps we need to rethink our priorities.

1 comment:

  1. I saw a recent magazine article about the future of jobs in America. In the future economy, service jobs such as plumbing and elderly care, may be more available and plentiful than jobs for lawyers. Plumbers can get rich. I just paid almost $300 to one to fix a dripping faucet.