Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Is there a difference between Robin Hood and City Council?

Venerable Bochur in Lubavitch writes:
Why in the world did we accept the idea that Robin Hood was a hero?
Steal from the rich, give to the poor. ????? How is that good? Even if the rich man is mean, he deserves to lose his money? Shouldn't it have been something more along the lines of:
Convince the city to help provide vocational training skills for the poor. ????
Actually, Yossi, it shouldn’t be. Because (unless the city government officials have an independent source of income — which most of them do not), it is really much worse. The last sentence could be read “convince the city to steal from the rich, the middle class and those poor that pay taxes and give to the poor in a form of vocational training program, which those who pay for it have no control over”.

What it really should be like is: “Organize a private charity (or a number of competing private charities) whose goal would be provision of vocational training for the poor and convince the rich to donate their money after you’ve convinced the city to stop taxing them. Alternatively, their goals could be whatever the people donating money to the charities decide. For instance, giving money to a kollel.”

And by the way, Robin Hood was stealing from the rich of the feudal world, not of the capitalist world. The difference is that in the feudal society, people get rich by becoming feudal lords and oppressing and robbing peasants in a form of taxation — kind of like the government today. On the other hand, in a capitalist society, people get rich by providing valuable services for the society — e.g., iPhones or Internet or surgeries — for which the society pays them, allowing them to provide even more and even better services.

So, Robin Hood was stealing the stolen money and returning it back to its original owners, the peasants. Quite the opposite from what the government does. As this documentary footage shows:

63 comments:

e said...

wise words. (Same applies to the two newer posts, but I shan't bother to leave comments there.)

e said...

subscribing

CA said...

thanks.

mor said...

First of all, the Torah even accepts the concept of serfdom (for goyim). See last week's parsha. The early peasants werent owners of anything - ma shekana eved kana rabbo.
Actually, Im not sure whether in late medieval england there were still actually serfs, but if somebody owes you money and cant pay you back - yeah you can confiscate his property.(meaning, i am not sure whether you could still confiscate his person then but for the purposes of robin hood it doesnt matter.)And even if all this didnt apply in Torah law - which it does as far as goyim are concerned - there is dina dimalchuta.

think before you speak said...

"ma shekana eved kana rabbo" applies to slaves, not to peasants. The Talmudic equivalent of a peasant is probably an aris, who definitely did have rights.

dina d'malchuta ≠ right. Nobody claims the legally the city council is not allowed to levee taxes.

mor said...

um, last time I checked a serf was a type of slave. There is a difference between a serf and a peasant. Certainly the serfdom that is described in Mitzrayim unde Yosef was a form of slavery. Google the word "serf."

mor said...

Actually, I am pretty sure that the author of this blog thinks that taxation=robbery. He is somebody. I think that he thinks that if something isn't fair then it can't be dina dimalchuta.

CA said...

No, I don't agree with the last statement. I think it's halachically allowed for a king to make a law that everyone wearing blue shoes will be killed. I even think genocide may be halachically allowed (which is why the rabbis of Russia told the Jews to go to places of mass slaughter like Babiy Yar or board the trains to concentration camps, even though they knew what was going on — my grandfather was a witness, and he didn't go only because his mother heard from her relatives in Poland about what's been happening and forbid him to go).

Obviously I don't think forbidding to wear blue shoes under thread of death or genocide are fair.

CA said...

Also, I think parking meters are not fair and are robbery. But may fall under dina d'malchuta (probably not, because US government is an evil kingdom when it's under Democrat administration) and may need to be paid halachically.

CA said...

Actually, Im not sure whether in late medieval england there were still actually serfs, but if somebody owes you money and cant pay you back - yeah you can confiscate his property.

So, if a bunch of people "owe" money to my Russian mafiosi friend who came to them and offered "protection" and demanded the pay for it, he is allowed to confiscare their property?

What does the fact whether or not Torah accepts the concept of sefrdom have to do with anything? Torah accepts the concept of having a wife in every port for the merchants.

CA said...

I don't really see such a big difference between the mafia organization started by William the Conqueror, which extracted money from the pesants of England and the organization started by Carlo Gambino, which extracted money from NYC merchants.

CA said...

In fact, everyone who read my words of wisdom just now owes me a dollar. You have to deliver it within a month; otherwise, I will come and confiscate some of your property. Ah, you didn't sign up for this service; it was pushed on you by force? So what? You still (I argue) benefited from it — so, you owe me a dollar. And since violence is on my side, the justice is on my side too.

My point is: in order for there to be a contract or any normal relationship between two people, there has to be consent of both parties. Just because one party forces some "exchange" onto another party, it doesn't mean there was a valid transaction. (That is why fraud is considered to be a crime, btw.)

In a society, where the government is represented by a monopoly (i.e., no alternatives, no choice), which enforces its rights to "govern" by violence, there can be no question of consent.

(Btw, my uncle's spell checker underlines every word, so I am sorry for any typos.)

mor said...

no it is not dina dimalchusa for the government to murder. that is clear. i think you should research d"d and write a post about it.
Anyway, I think you should read the serf section in the Torah and then come back to me - I still dont think you get what serfdom is and how it starts. It has to do with financial stuff originally, not protection. Protection is the idea behind the higher levels of feudal society.
The Torah says you can have a wife in every port IF that is ok with your original wives. Shalom bayis is already in sefer breishis. Dont oversimplify.

CA said...

I didn't say murder. I said "genocide".

Why don't you research how William the Conqueror acquired serfs and get back to me.

I thought that Jews were having multiple wives without each other's consent.

mor said...

A freeman became a serf usually through force or necessity. Sometimes freeholders or allodial owners were intimidated into dependency by the greater physical and legal force of a local baron. Often a few years of crop failure, a war or brigandage might leave a person unable to make his own way. In such a case a bargain was struck with the lord. In exchange for protection, service was required, in payment and/or with labour. These bargains were formalized in a ceremony known as "bondage" in which a serf placed his head in the seigneur's hands, parallel to the ceremony of "homage" where a vassal placed his hands between those of his lord. These oaths bound the seigneur to their new serf and outlined the terms of their agreement.[12] Often these bargains were severe. A 7th century Anglo Saxon "Oath of Fealty" states "By the Lord before whom this sanctuary is holy, I will to N. be true and faithful, and love all which he loves and shun all which he shuns, according to the laws of God and the order of the world. Nor will I ever with will or action, through word or deed, do anything which is unpleasing to him, on condition that he will hold to me as I shall deserve it, and that he will perform everything as it was in our agreement when I submitted myself to him and chose his will." To become a serf was a commitment that invaded all aspects of the serf’s life.
Moreover, serfdom was inherited. By taking on the duties of serfdom, serfs bound not only themselves but all of their future heirs

mor said...

That was from wikipedia. Note the sometimes vs. the often.

mor said...

protection in the second situation meaning i will protect you from starvation and/or brigands and/or invading armies. Not from myself. That is the first case. Now for an even more authoritative source.

mor said...

http://www.chabad.org/parshah/torahreading.asp?AID=15557&p=7

And note that as goyim they are acquired, and how a Jew cannot be acquired. Just sayin.

Mor said...

some jewish men were nivul birshus hatorah. clearly chachamim were not fond of their behavior and that is why rabbeinu gershom made a cherem. What is your point exactly? That because not all disgusting behavior is explicitly outlawed by the Torah the moral authority of said book is compromised? I didnt know you were such a statist! :P
Anyway, I think that the Torah likes that Yosef made goyim serfs. There is this story and there are all of the legal machinations in later books of chumash that tell you how to acquire a non Jewish slave. Obviously you have to be mentchlach about it.

mor said...

The difference between English on one side and French and Russians on the other is that the former were mentchlach serfholders and later landlords, and that is why Engand never had a real popular rebellion.

CA said...

Moreover, serfdom was inherited. By taking on the duties of serfdom, serfs bound not only themselves but all of their future heirs

Umm. Yeah. Children can’t come into a legal transaction without some party just because their parents did. They themselves did not agree to it. The same way, just like a child is born to American parents who agreed to live under the slavery of US government, doesn’t mean that he agreed to that.

The difference between English on one side and French and Russians on the other is that the former were mentchlach serfholders and later landlords, and that is why Engand never had a real popular rebellion.
The difference between US and USSR is that the former is a benign (mostly — when Republicans are in control of the government) slaveowner, and the former was not a benign one (although it educated its slaves better than its American colleague).

Both are slaveowners, however, who use oppression to hold people as their subjects.

Even if 99.99% of the population agrees to be slaves, but 0.01% does not, it is still oppression.

CA said...

with* some party

CA said...

What is your point exactly?

My point is just because some phenomenon is muttar in Torah, it doesn’t mean it’s appropriate today.

Anyway, I think that the Torah likes that Yosef made goyim serfs.

I see it as a cautionary tale. It all started as a central planning program by Yosef. It continued as a program of making Egypt into an authoritarian state, with the populace becoming slaves to the Pharoh. It ended with Yosef’s own descendants enslaved and their babies being slaughtered.

Speaking of dina d’malchusa: http://www.cnn.com/2010/HEALTH/11/19/male.circumcision.sf/index.html

Yay for liberals, ddd, and California.

mor said...

"Children can't come into a legal transaction without some part just because their parents did."

According to the Torah, they can. The children of a slave are slaves.

"I see it as a cautionary tale"

Hmm. There is a Torah mechanism for letting a slave go free. However, if you do it is an aveira (eved kinaani). You are not _allowed_ to let your slaves, including the ones who were born into slavery, go free.
Additionally, Rabban Gamliel famously had an eved kina'ani named Tevi and the gemara talks positively about that relationship.
"It ended with Yosef's own descendants enslaved and their babies being slaughtered."
I think not. See this weeks parsha for the story of how the Jews were enslaved.

CA said...

According to Torah, slavery is immoral. The only exception is the case of the Seven Nations, for whom slavery was a case of rehabilitation.

In what other case do children inherit a legal contract their parents have made?

mor said...

Also, to the best of my knowledge nobody ever willingly entered into an agreement to be an American slave. They were basically captured by pirate-type traders and then sold against their will. Sometimes one tribe would take prisoners from another tribe and sell them. Sometimes the head of a tribe would sell his own people. (something no European lord could have gotten away with)

mor said...

Are you sure? I think an eved kinaani can be anybody - lav davka seven nations.

mor said...

Also, in the days of moshiach the goyim are going to be our slaves. That is definitely not only talking about 7 nations.

Treating slaves brutally is of course immoral.

I dont think it is necessary to find another case where a parent's decisions affect a child since we are talking about slavery over here.

mor said...

But if you want - lets say somebody's parent owes money to a third party and then the parent dies and the kids inherit the property. The kids need to repay the debt from the property, and they can't say "well if it had been me i wouldnt have gone into debt to acquire x."

e said...

This conversation illustrates why it's silly to let some ancient book decide your morals.

mor said...

Of course it is much more intelligent to let pompous eighteenth century French people decide your morals with a couple of your own personal adjustments, the persoanal adjustments of course being totally free of any influence from your subjective selfish wants.

Or you could not have a set of morals at all- that is just brilliant. I wonder why nobody thought of that before. They must have been too stupid.

mor said...

Some might argue that this conversation illustrates the necessity of hachna'a.

e said...

Or you could not have a set of morals at all- that is just brilliant. I wonder why nobody thought of that before.

they have thought of it before. Thank you.

CA said...

“With climbing trees I had the same situation: climbing up was not problematic in the least way. I saw the branches in front of myself, I felt them in my hands and could test their hardness even before I lifted myself and then put my foot on them. But when I was climbing down, I did not see everything and was forced to find, more or less blindly, the branches below me, until I found a proper support — except, oftentimes, the support was not so firm, but rotten and slippery, and then I would slip or fall through, and if I did not have a chance to catch some branch with both hands, I would fall down as a stone does, according to the so-called laws of falling bodies, discovered already almost four hundred years ago by an Italian scientist Galileo but still acting even today.”
(Patrick Süskind, “Die Geschichte von Herrn Sommer”)

e said...

your point...

e said...

that morality is a fact like gravity?

CA said...

Indeed. Whether or not we can “discover” it independently or not. In fact, we were given by G-d the laws of morality 3300 years ago. The age of the tradition or a text being the cornerstone of the tradition is irrelevant. Laws given by G-d do not change just like laws of physics (that have the same source) do not change.

Now, you may not agree that the laws were given by G-d. To me, it’s like someone disagreeing about Newton’s theory of gravitation. Fine. We can argue about that some other time. But to dismiss something based on age is illogical.

On the other hand, it may be the case that some laws which were applicable in a certain circumstance are no longer applicable. Allowing polygamy, for instance. Or a few dollars being a punishment for raping someone. Rabbonim have a right to impose an additional level of punishment/restriction if they feel the need.

(Plus, I think the relationship between eved knani and Yisroel and between an English lord and his peasants is not parallel at all. Goyim are not allowed to enslave other goyim. Nor are Jews allowed to enslave goyim outside of the Seven Nations — our “neighbors”.)

e said...

OK. I emend my comment.

To those who are pondering how likely it is that god informed humanity of all the important moral facts in a cryptic, ambiguous book, this conversation may sway them to decide negatively.

To those who think that religion and morality have nothing to do with facts (as do 90% of so-called religious Americans [statistic based on purely anecdotal evidence]) this conversation illustrates why it's silly to let some ancient book decide your morals.

CA said...

I don’t understand the second statement.

Re: first statement: well, there is no logical reason to believe that there should be a correlation between how much G-d’s laws make sense to us and the probability of Him having given them.

mor said...

CA: I don't think not being allowed to enslave others is part of the 7 mitzvos bnai noach. The Torah is eternal and we never ass or subtract from it. You can use the takana of R'G as a question but it is not a proof of anything. e:I dont know what you mean by cryptic and ambiguous. Just because you have probably never bothered actually going through it with Rashi and are only aware of most of the halachic sections from side references in a couple of sugyas of gemara you have no right to make any pronouncements. All I know is that Rashi and Ramban were both definitely much smarter than you and they saw Torah as anything but a cryptic and ambigous book.

CA said...

Actually, enslaving someone is a subset of kidnapping, which is forbidden for both Jews and goyim.

mor said...

Stated more succintly: The Torah is a "cryptic and ambiguous book" to those who have never bothered learning it.

mor said...

No. In order to be chayav for kidnapping you need to do two things.
1. kidnap and
2. enslave
In other words, what pirates did on the coast of Africa was, as you say, assur for goyim certainly.

There is enslavement that is unrelated to kidnapping which you do if again, someone owes you money and can't pay.

CA said...

I would like to see where children inherit their parents’ debts al pi Halacha (not debts with their parents’ estate, but debts bichlal).

Then I would like to see that it’s ok for me to threaten physical violence to extract a debt from someone.

Third, I’d like to see that it is mutar for a goy to enslave another goy for his debts and keep his descendants as slaves.

mor said...

not it is only with the estate i am pretty sure

mor said...

no. you can enslave someone without threatening violence. Basically, declaring bankruptcy is a modern thing. In the olden days that was never allowed. If you couldnt pay you became a slave.

CA said...

So, what does it have to do with children of a) alive, b) dead parents becoming slaves automatically?

mor said...

i dont thin the alternative was getting physically punished by your creditor you just went to jail or the king did something not nice to you or something.

CA said...

In modern times if one commits some crime (e.g., driving without a license), he can become a slave. For some crimes he can even be executed, if you live in a republican state.

So what? What does it have to do with his children.

(Btw, the verdict is not clear about the above either — whether those are the most rationally moral options, but I don’t want to go there now.)

mor said...

nothing. no connection. You just asked whether there is another case of parents decisions affecting children.
Well, I think Yosef acquired the Egyptians (note, not members of seven nations) on Parohs' behalf.

mor said...

Ok - so modern law is different than ancient law. I dont think that that proves anything.

mor said...

Also, this is all purely dinei mamonos it seems so even if it wasnt in the Torah if a nation made a law like that it would hold.

CA said...

I am not talking about modern law. I am talking about morality of slavery. I am arguing that it is immoral to keep children of the people who sold themselves as slaves. Just like it is immoral to force any kind of exchange on anyone.

(Although, apparently, Obama disagrees, since he argues that it’s moral to force people to get a health insurance. Maybe Obama would agree that slavery is moral too.)

OK, I have to go buy sausages now. The discussion about the morality of killing conscious creatures for food or research is next.

CA said...

Just because a nation makes a law doesn’t mean it’s a just law.

mor said...

ok, so the problem is that the Torah says otherwise and this is where hachna'a, aka bittul comes in. Bittul to the rebbe isnt so important compared to this kind of bittul.

mor said...

Well, what criteria would you use to determine what is a just law? The Supreme Court says - as long as it doesn't violate the consitution (which this court will probably hold Obama's reforms do). I think that from our perspective it makes sense to say that as long as a law doesnt violate 7 mitzvos or prevent Jews from keeping 613 it is sufficiently just.

mor said...

And saying that children of slaves remains slaves does neither of the above.

CA said...

A just law is such a law that does not violate someone’s natural rights. Using these criteria, most laws today are unjust.

Now, if you have something that belongs to me, taking it away from you is not unjust. The specific methods of taking it, etc., are up for discussion.

What do you mean: Torah says otherwise? Torah does not explicitly says that goyim having slaves is moral. Nor does it say that it is immoral. Nor does it say that leaving someone agunah is ossur. Or not giving someone his wallet that was washed up from the sea. It’s under the concept of m"ch.

You know: I heard an explanation that when it says that the Beis HaMikdosh HaSheini was destroyed because people were too makpid, it means they were too exacting about what is a din al pi Halacha and did not use their heads.

CA said...

(Actually, I am still not sure whether it’s muttar for a goy to keep a slave. Or for a Jew, for that matter. I need to ask my Rav.)

e said...

CA: It may be hard for you to believe, but for many people religion is about feeling good, not about facts.

Mor: Please do not pass judgement on my lomdus or lack thereof. I did learn chumash and rashi in cheder and learned chitas scrupulously for many years.

The Rambam was smarter than me and saw chumash unambiguously saying one thing. Thomas Aquinas was also smarter than me and understood the same book completely differently. Do you not sense some ambiguity here? I'm not going to argue with you what's the "correct" interpretation, but you must agree that it is open to interpretation.

Certified Ashkenazi said...

For those for whom religion is about feeling good, one thing must be said: “Truth is not sentimental”.

Re: Thomas Aquinas: he had no access to Oral Torah.

e said...

But religion is sentimental. Ergo religion is not truth (would say the 90% or religious people).

precisely my point!!! If you need to Oral Torah to understand the written torah, doesn't that mean that the written torah is ambiguous?

Anonymous said...

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