Beit Midrash

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To dedicate this lesson
part II

Firing Teachers


Various Rabbis

[Last time, we saw various opinions if the ruling that one may replace a Torah teacher with a better one is referring to within the period of the employment agreement and whether it is referring to firing with pay or without.]
Rav S.Z. Orbach (in Techumin V, p. 291- ) gives another reason to forbid firing a teacher without a valid reason. He suggests that it is possible in our days that a teacher in a public institution has a position of honor about which the Rama (Yoreh Deah 245:22) rules the following: "He who is established as the rabbi of the city, even if he put himself in a position of authority, one should not remove him from his elevated position even if someone greater than he came to the place."
It seems that these days, when not specified, a teacher is hired for one year at a time, unless he is given a permanent appointment. In any case, according to the Aruch Hashulchan [see last week], it is possible to replace a teacher with someone more qualified in the middle of the school year, not to mention that he does not have to be rehired for the coming year in any case. According to Rav Kolitz [cited last week], even after the year, he can be replaced only with someone better; during the year, he cannot be replaced even with someone more qualified.
Regarding the pay of a teacher who was fired in the middle of the year, in general we say that one who started working and was removed is paid (at least at a reduced rate) until the end of the period if he is unable to find alternative employment (based on Bava Metzia 75b). The rate of pay depends on if the worker is the type who would rather be idle or would rather work. The gemara assumes that the average worker prefers to be idle but mentions the porters of Mechoza as an example of those who do not like being idle, because it weakens them. The Nimukei Yosef (Bava Metzia 47a in the Rif’s pages) says that teachers are among those who receive full pay. As this is true of any profession in which those involved are weakened by idleness, this should apply to those who study Torah. However, the Rashba (Shut I, 643) says that a beit din should decide on an individual basis. In general, though, a teacher would be expected to receive full pay until the end of the year.
The Taz (CM 333:2) says that an idle worker gets paid only half of his normal salary. However, the Rashba (I, 887) implies that the reduction is significantly less. It is possible that the matter should be compared with the salary teachers receive when on sabbatical. After all, those teachers have the right to choose between vacation with partial pay and working with full pay; this is what we try to estimate regarding an idle worker.
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