On being paid to think religious thoughts

1 12 2009

…But it went against Maimonides’ grain to use the Torah as a spade. The notion that the communities were obligated to subsidize scholars in their studies was something he regarded as an “error, for neither the Torah nor the books of the later sages have any guiding principle, any indication to support this.”

No one could demonstrate that the great teachers of the past “demanded money from the people; they did not collect money for respected and distiguished academies… Had Hillel asked for help, they would have filled his house with gold and precious stones, but he did not wish to take anything, he nourished himself from the proceeds of his work; he scorned donations for the sake of the Torah.

-Abraham Joshua Heschel, Maimonides