Q. Academics sometimes go on strike. What does Jewish law say about Torah teachers striking?
A. It is a well known Jewish principle that someone with a grievance may even hold up the synagogue service in order to draw attention to their claims. Whether this justifies strike action depends on the profession concerned.
As a general rule, anyone who provides an essential service must not place human life at risk by resorting to strike action. Hence doctors must not jeopardise a patient’s life or health by withdrawing their services. Teachers of Torah must also not harm their pupils’ souls by cancelling Torah lessons.
Obviously a Torah teacher is entitled to protect his own interests, but not if it means denying Torah teaching. However, Rav Moshe Feinstein was prepared to countenance a brief work stoppage in really extreme circumstances. He argued that financial stress and worry may affect the teacher’s effectiveness with the result that the Torah would suffer by the pupils being unable to learn properly.