In his commentary to this Mishna, Maimonides denounces the professionalization of the rabbinate, and offers an ardent condemnation of Torah scholars who are not economically self-sufficient.
In this article I contend that Maimonides’ attack is directed at structured systems of communal support and is not a condemnation of all financial arrangements that enable scholars to pursue their studies. In part I of this article, I address this distinction in Maimonides’ writings and explore his attitudes toward the pursuit of scholarship and economic self-sufficiency. In part II, I present Geniza documents that demonstrate the relevance of Maimonides’ comments in light of the economic
realities of Egypt in Maimonides’ day.
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