Friday, June 22, 2012

Choosing for Oneself, Choosing for One's Children

In discussions about the merits and demerits of kollel, and in decisions about supporting people in kollel, there is a crucial factor that is often overlooked.

When someone is in kollel, in 99% of cases, this is not merely a personal direction for their own life. It also means that they are raising their children with kollel as the expected norm, with no secular education, and with no expectation that they will be self-supporting.

In other words, with the exception of kollels such as Torah MiTziyon, or the RIETS semicha kollel, kollel is usually part and parcel of a larger lifestyle choice. Here are some examples of scenarios in which this makes a big difference.

"I want to learn in kollel, and I'm willing to endure the hardships and take the risks."

It's all very well for you to make that choice, but what about your children? What options will be available to them, when they are raised without any general education and taught they are second-class citizens if they work?

"Are Torah scholars less worthy of Jewish communal support than scholars of romance languages and literature, jazz music, or modern dance?"
Amongst many other differences, the university academic is not raising all his children with the expectation that they will also be university academics, and the lack of training or desire to do anything else.

"Chazal said that there is room for individuals to follow in the path of R. Shimon bar Yochai etc."
But Chazal also ruled that a person must teach his children a trade - no exceptions are made!

(Parent of kollel students:) "I'm doing a chessed for my kids. I can afford to support them in kollel. That's why I'm not pushing them to learn a career."
But can you afford to support all their children in kollel? Your kindness to your children is cruelty to your grandchildren!


  1. "Are Torah scholars less worthy of Jewish communal support than scholars of romance languages and literature, jazz music, or modern dance?"
    Amongst many other differences, the university academic is not raising all his children with the expectation that they will also be university academics, and the lack of training or desire to do anything else.

    Three other important distinctions about Academics:
    1) Academics are usually expected to provide a service (e.g. teaching) in order to justify the salary that they are provided. The university and the academic have a quid pro quo relationship, where the university provides time and space to conduct research, in return the academic devotes time to teaching the University's students. Further, the academics research efforts are expected to feedback into their teaching, providing it's (the University's) students with a cutting edge knowledge of the relevant discipline.

    2) The academic is expected to be productive, as measured by several measures, including good teaching, research productivity (publication in peer reviewed journals) and external grant success. Academia is a "technocracy" in that academics who are not active and successful researchers usually find themselves unemployed and looking for other work. (My understanding is that there is no "merit based" tenure in Kollel, showing up for Kollel is enough for tenure.)

    3) Academics need to produce an income for the institutions they work for. If they are not teaching their employment is 100% dependent on grant success. Grant success itself is almost entirely dependent on other experts in the field valuing and giving high regard to your research effort and productivity.

  2. "I want to learn in kollel, and I'm willing to endure the hardships and take the risks."
    That might be true that people are prepared to face the hardship and risks that come with a Kollel lifestyle. But what about the commitment you made in your Ketubah?
    And what about all the statements of Chazal about how far a person should go to avoid being reliant on the community. At the end of the day people living off a kollel salary are living off other people's charity.

  3. This is a very thought-provoking topic, although some of the comments on the past postings have declined to, "Oof! When will these lazy kollelnicks do something productive with their lives?"

    I was in a Mifal HaShas Kollel, learning in the Choshen Mishpat-Even HaEzer track. I dropped out, but friends of mine who stuck it out learned all of Choshen Mishpat-Even HaEzer in around 10 years, with serious monthly exams, and a review exam every three months. Granted, there isn't such a demand for knowledge of this area of Torah.(How many positions for dayyanim can there be in any community?) But, if people only learned what is for expedience, only the parts of Shulchan Aruch that are needed most, I think we run a real risk of huge sections of Torah being forgotten, chas v'shalom.

  4. Yehuda p,
    As far as I'm concerned, Choshen Mishpat is 6 times more applicable than hilchos Shabbos. One need not be a dayan have questions to deal with. Ona'ah, mekach taus, kinyanim, mi shepora, malveh loveh; questions like these come up every day in my business. It is horrible that rabbis don't promote CM enough. A proper ben Torah in the business world must be fluent in Orach Chaim and Choshen Mishpat.

  5. Yehudah P.:

    You wrote: "[I]f people only learned what is for expedience, only the parts of Shulchan Aruch that are needed most, I think we run a real risk of huge sections of Torah being forgotten, chas v'shalom."

    Unfortunately, the reality is exactly the opposite. 99% of yeshiva and kollel men spend most of their time studying mesachtot that have almost no relevance to real life.

    If/When most people in yeshiva start studying relevant material, I'm willing to admire the exceptions who don't (just like eccentric academics who study archaic material are sometimes respected).

  6. Question: "Are Torah scholars less worthy of Jewish communal support than scholars of romance languages and literature, jazz music, or modern dance?"
    Answer:Torah scholars deserve our support. when they own a store we should shop there. but to be in kollel is forbidden. First of all the problem is that one is not allowed to us th Torah as a shovel to make a living. no one disagrees with this. The tashbatz says that to hire a rav is permitted -and to support him also but not for the job of learning Torah. In the Torah there is no job of learning Torah that one gets paid for.I know many people have heard that the tashbatz says that kollel is permitted but most of those people have not seen the tashbatz inside.

  7. בית יוסף יורה דעה סימן רמו

    וכבר כתב והאריך הה"ר שמעון בר צמח בתשובותיו (ח"א סי' קמב - קמח) לחלוק על הרמב"ם ולסתור כל דבריו

    ולהחזיק ביד החכמים


    הנוטלים פרס מהציבור

  8. One of the last words of Rav Hirsch to his talmidim were "Torah Im Derech Eretz" will bring the geula closer.

    Makes sense if you think about it: if secular israelis see that there is no contradiction between being Haredi and (the man) working, many more chozrim bit'shuva will emerge!

    Yehi Ratzon SheYiboneh beis Hamikdosh Bimherah Veyomeynu!

  9. The arrogant one who can afford whatever he seems to want, may not realize that affordability, even before any grandchild is born, is a notorius unstable factor.

  10. R' Slifkin - what about the opinion of R' Nehorai (end Kidushin)?

    Also, your argument is that Kollel in general (as a mass movement) is bad. Fine. But your point about children is irrelevant. Everybody makes decisions in life that affect their children. We should also think about the ramifications of our decisions. But your argument is basically circular.

  11. Re: "everybody makes decisions in life that affect their children": yes, and sometimes these decisions are so poor that the law intervenes on the children's behalf. Condemning one's children to a cycle of poverty may not present a direct case of pikuach nefesh, but I am still reminded of the J.'s Witnesses and their issur of using blood transfusions. The law in more than one country has decided that individual adult Witnesses are free to endanger their own lives by following this rule, but may not so endanger the lives of their children. See, for example,

  12. "everybody makes decisions in life that affect their children"

    My point was that many people do not realize that a decision to go to kollel is ALSO a decision to send all one's kids to kollel.

  13. To offer my 1.5 cents:

    Not having seen the Rambam on the topic inside anytime recently, my understand of his position on this topic is as follows:
    1) It is utterly assur to faff about learning for your own satisfaction and expecting to live off of charity. The Rambam condemns this in the strongest terms.
    2) If you are adopting for yourself the traditional role of the Leviim, to be Rabbis, teachers, and innovators of chidushei Torah, for the sake of the Jewish Nation, you are undertaking a vital function within Am Yisrael and it is appropriate for the community to support you, similar to how Hashem decreed support for the literal Leviim in the biblical era who were tasked with these roles.

    To paraphrase the distinction in my own terms, you get paid for services rendered - if your Torah study is contributing to Am Yisrael in some genuine fashion, you should be supported in doing so. If not, then not.

    So, you basically have three options:

    1) Work for living and learn as much as you can otherwise. That could be 90% work and 10% learning, or it could be the exact reverse, or anything in between, depending on what you do for work, what standard of living you have, etc.
    (Or be independently wealthy and support yourself in learning that way.)
    Nobody owes you a living.

    2) Learn for years, supported by the community, because you're training to be (or are) an active community Rav, or a Dayan, or a religious school teacher, or a Ra'M, or a posek, or a community kollelnik (i.e., adult education provider), or a "kiruv professional" (i.e., specially trained teacher for new initiates) or you're one of those clearly gifted people who is realistically going to contribute significant advances in Torah scholarship for your generation. Not only is all of this important for those individual roles, but the health of Torah scholarship on the whole requires a healthy, vibrant, dedicated community of these kinds of people. This corresponds to the Leviim of yesteryear.

    3) Be in a Yissachar-Zevulun partnership. I know questions have been raised about the source of this idea, but as long as we accept the notion that the reward for a scholar's learning can be transferred to his material supporter, then this is a mutually beneficial and bilateral business deal in which so both sides get what they want.

    In conclusion, kollel is wonderful and is a necessary part of the Jewish people, but it needs to be done according to the aforementioned rules, and is obviously neither the only option, nor the default for most people.

  14. As for the issue of the children, indeed, like the debate between Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai and Rabbi Yishmael (as I recall) in Brachos, most people can't handle the Torah-only path, but some can and should do it.
    Similarly, Rabbi Meir both says "you must teach your son a trade" and "I'll teach my son only Torah". The answer, as I've heard it, is that most people need to go earn their own living, but those few individuals who have the right personality and talents to succeed and thrive in it can and should be guided to the Torah-only approach. Surely, however, this applies because they are being groomed to use their abilities to spiritually serve the nation.

    So, in other words, both supporting oneself and kollel-for-the-right-reasons are vital and respectable paths within Am Yisrael, and both should be celebrated and encouraged.

    It is nevertheless right to celebrate and encourage Torah study, including the Torah-only kollel path, moreso.

    As an analogy, do you want your kids to be great scientists or garbage men? Well, the role of great scientist is better than the role of garbage man. The inherent worth of the men in those roles is equal, and if both men are doing their best to contribute to society then they are equally worthy of respect. The scientist gets more praise, however, because his role is something that people value more highly. (Plus there's the practical angle of it being a role which requires a long, expensive training period. People need encouragement to work up to it, and if society doesn't maintain an attitude of "work hard so you can become a great scientist" then nobody will put in the effort.)
    Kollel, as such, should be praised. It just is wrong to suggest that kollel is the only legitimate path for Jews to take and to imply that those who are not cut out for it are somehow "bad" or "failures".

  15. Option 1 is endorsed as a lechatchilah by all Rishonim and Acharonim (but not charedim).

    Option 2 is endorsed by many Rishonim and probably all Acharonim.

    Option 3 is probably supported by many Acharonim, possibly some Rishonim.

    However, neither 2 or 3 is supported by Rambam. He did not believe in any financial support for either students or rabbis, ever. He was very unusual in this regard. The only thing that he permitted for a Torah scholar was for others to invest the Torah scholar's funds on his behalf.

  16. "Surely, however, this applies because they are being groomed to use their abilities to spiritually serve the nation."

    That's assuming that they actually are spiritually serving the nation. Most people in kollel do not end up doing that.

  17. Well, yeah, I acknowledge that Hareidi society has become somewhat...skewed in areas such as this. Some adjustment is needed.
    I just spoke up because very often the commenters here sound to be saying "end those useless kollels" or else are pro-kollel folks responding with equally zealous outbursts, and I wanted to present the middle-of-the-road, nuanced perspective which I understand to be the correct one. Both roles are important, and the tendency of so many to champion one to the exclusion of the other is clearly bad.
    Just putting that out there.

  18. Meir says
    Present daf yomi 31B
    A boy comes with his loaf in his hand
    a girl has to pray first!

  19. You are all making fair distinctions between kollel and earning a phd but missing what I believe is the main distinction, and that is one of scale. An English phd student is great, a society of English phd students is a disaster.

  20. Rabbi Slifkin,

    I agree that 'choosing for oneself instead of choosing for one's children' is a major problem here, but I think largely in the opposite of the argument you have laid out.

    Isn't the cross-generational issue of over-enrollment in not that you are condemning the next generation to kollel, but rather that you are wasting today's wealth on undeserving full-time learners instead of saving up to make sure that the best in every generation are able to learn?

    If wealthy Zeide supports all three sons in Kollel, there will be nothing left for the 20 grandsons. If Zeide only supports the one most deserving son and invests the rest, there should be enough to support the cream of the next generation too.

    Choosing too much Kollel for ourselves will PREVENT our (deserving) children from being able to live a Kollel lifestyle.

  21. This is essentially the same argument I've heard atheists use to express disagreement with religious parents raising their children religious - that it is ok for an adult to make certain choices for himself, but wrong to inculcate values in children that will lead to them making the same choices (essentially, the argument goes, "brainwashing" them).

    Children of kollelnicks grow up into adults. Some become Kollelnicks themselves. Others go off the derech entirely. Still others become "New Chareidim", or modox, or chassidish, etc.

    Regardless of education and environment, at the end of the day we all, and our children all, have free will and the ability to choose. And as parents, it is our obligation to model what we believe to be correct behavior for our children.

    Criticizing b'nei kollel for "creating expected norms for their children" is no more valid that criticizing any other parent for doing so; your problem is with the norm created, not the act of norm creation.

  22. The issue you are discussing is not kollel. Many people learn in kollel for a few years and then work. If they stay, it is by their choice. The real issue is that children are raised without a secular education and have no choices. Thouse that are not inclined to learn in kollel, end up very unhappy and frustrated. I have met several young men in that situation.

  23. The focus here (as usual) seems to be on Israeli haredi society. But there are other kollels. In my city in the U.S., there are two kollels I support. The reason I support them is because the kollel rabbis teach classes and they learn one on one with working guys like me. I go there after work some days to study.

    That kind of kollel has real value. The ones in my neighborhood pick personable rabbis who want to teach. They provide a great deal of value to the community, so we support them.

    A kollel that doesn't teach, doesn't do outreach, doesn't raise the general level of knowledge of the surrounding (working) community is a different animal.

  24. A few other points...Academics who are supported in fellowships (or even as professors) MUST produce or lose their money and jobs. Publish or perish.

    Choosing Kollel claiming to make sacrifices ignore what I call the Kollel ripple effect; the amount of community money it takes to support one Kollel family (tuition breaks, tomchei shabbas, etc).

    The BIGGEST problem is finding jobs for all of these every increasing numbers of Kollel men. The expansion of our organizational structure is REALLY about creating Kavodick jobs for otherwise unemployable Kollel products.

  25. R' Slifkin - you must differentiate between Eretz Yisrael and the US. In the US there are plenty of kollel children in law school and with successful businesses.
    And you haven't responded to R' Nehorai.

  26. Re. R. Nehorai - see all the sources on it collected by Leo Levi in Torah Study. It doesn't mean that his son didn't learn a trade.

  27. R' Slifkin - could you please offer some sources about R' Nehorai from the book?

    The simple reading of the Mishna is not as you describe.

    And this is not a critique on you as many others do similarly - but I personally find it frustrating that some contemporary book is quoted as the definitive word and all one feels the need to say is "see there" even when making an argument that certainly is up for debate.

  28. Almost every parent hopes that his children will follow his derech. A lawyer or academic would probably be very disappointed, to say the least, if his children chose to be construction workers - or avereichim.
    However, it is correct that those who see their tafkid as being in kollel all their lives should put back in some form whether it is teaching or writing or being dayanim.On the other hand, they should at least be renumerated as are their secular counterparts.
    As for the ketuba, as in monetary matters in general the wife may forego her husband's support and even undertake to support him

  29. Well, here's a problem: People are free to give whatever charity they want. They are not free to decide what taxes to pay (and in nations with "iron triangles" and/or coalition politics, don't talk about elections), and those learning full time are essentially taking their money via the force of the state. It's not just a free choice.

  30. Kollel Nick made a good point--people encounter a lot of Choshen Mishpat cases in their lives, and perhaps aren't even aware that Jewish law already has a ruling on it. A friend of mine (who went through law school) bought R. Emmanuel Quint's "Restatement of Rabbinic Civil Law", which goes through Choshen Mishpat, siman by siman, putting the halachot in contemporary legal English, and citing modern halachic problems.

    My point more was, for true mastery of Shulchan Aruch, we're talking of a time investment of at least 10 years of full-time learning.(I am familiar with a kollel that covers one track of the Mifal HaShas program in a half day of learning.) Except in rare cases (I understand Rav Wosner knew all of Shulchan Aruch ba'al peh by age 18), most who have gained a complete mastery of the Shulchan Aruch will be in their late 30's, living only on a kollel salary up to that point. It's quite a sacrifice, but, at the same time, we need people with such bekius as well.

  31. 4LL said...
    בית יוסף יורה דעה סימן רמו
    וכבר כתב והאריך הה"ר שמעון בר צמח בתשובותיו (ח"א סי' קמב - קמח) לחלוק על הרמב"ם ולסתור כל דבריו
    ולהחזיק ביד החכמים
    הנוטלים פרס מהציבור---my feeling about this is that i always like to go to original sources instead of depending on how someone quotes something. In this case i looked up the tashbatz and discovered that he does not say that taking money for learning Torah is allowed. rather he defends the idea that a community can hire a rav to do the normal functions of rav. and this is the institution that always existed in Europe that around a great talmid chacham would comes students t that would receive "kest" from the community. This is the institution the tashbatz defends, this has nothing to do with receive pay for learning Torah which is a very big sin according to all rishonim and is the reason i am not in kollel.

  32. Yitzi7,

    The Brisker Rav of all people, understands that R' Nehorai is talking only about his son, one of the elite, and not the masses. For the masses the din is חייב אדם ללמד את בנו אומנות. See my post here The famous dispute between R' Yishmael and רשב"י for the full explanation of the Brisker Rav

  33. שו"ת תשב"ץ חלק א סימן קמב

    ואפי' התלמידים העוסקים בתורה כל ימיהם אף על פי שאינן ראשי ישיבות חייבין הצבור לפרנסם דרך כבודם

  34. I must say, I have learned to appreciate Chabad's approach to Kollel over the years. Young avreichim are allowed to learn in Kollel for a period of time (2-3 years typically with exceptions for genuine illuyim) but then they are essentially "kicked out" on the basis that they need to make an active contribution to society (Hayom Katzar V'Ham'lacha Merubah!).

    In the absence of active scholarship (how many kollelniks write seforim?) or remarkable hasmodo, a kollel life can be quite narcissistic.

    To the best of my knowledge, there is actually no chiyyuv to learn Torah - the chiyyuv is to teach it to our children (learning is obviously a pre-requisite to teach). If we are not teaching and if we are not engaged in the real world where we can crystallise the notion of "lilmod al menas la'asos", then what great kiyyum is being accomplished?

  35. Bluke - that is fine and not surprising. That is exactly what I assumed. But R' Slifkin seemed to say that while R' Shimon is an exception for adults there is no exception to the obligation to teach A trade to ones son. My point in bringing R' Nehorai was to point out that there seems to be a similar exception in the obligation to teach a trade.

    R' Slifkin then said that even R' Nehora doesn't mean that you don't teach any trade. For the sake of understanding the Mishna I am asking for sources on that.

    Your source is a proof AGAINST R' Slifkin. Indeed the Brisker Rav understands R' Nehorai as an exception from the obligation to teach a trade to ones son, although a limited one. Which Meforshim understand differently? In any case, R' Slifkins point has been shown to be incorrect.

  36. I looked up sources and now see many Acharonim understand R' Nahorai as I do. The equivalent of R' Shimon for an adult, one CAN decide for ones child. See Penay Yehoshua, Chasam Sofer, among many others. Others go further and say as opposed to R' Shimon, we actually pasken like R' Nehorai and do not need to teach trade, which is why Rambam doesn't bring down the Chiyuv. Bottom line R' Slifkins post is misleading at best and certainly wrong according to some major Acharonim.

  37. Pnai Yehoshua actually says that R. Nehorai was only speaking for his son, who was an exceptional person.

    In any case, others understand that this Gemara does not mean that R. Nehorai's son did not learn a trade. Chida says that it was after he already learned a trade. Imrei Shefer says that he learned a trade upon reaching adulthood. Maharsha says that he learned a trade only on a transitory basis.

    Furthermore, it's not clear on what basis people can disregard R. Meir's RULE (on the basis of which several halachos are paskened) and instead choose to follow R. Nehorai's personal statement.

  38. R' Slifkin - everything you say in your last comment is fine. But in the post you wrote that while there is an individual exception for Adults there is no exception with regard to teaching a son a trade. According to Penay Yehoshua and many others this is simply incorrect. For some reason lately in your zeal to make a point you make these incorrect or only partially correct statements. Its like you still believe you can "lie for truth" or follow the Chasam Sofers approach that you yourself critiqued. Making a correct point about mass Kollel does not give you a right to misrepresent Torah. Your post as written is simply incorrect Torah. There ARE exceptions to teaching your son a trade. I don't understand why you can't simply admit that you were incorrect according to many opinions.

  39. You are correct, and my post is inaccurate. According to some Acharonim's interpretation of one view in the Gemara, there is indeed an exemption from teaching one's child a trade.

    Perhaps people who are choosing kollel, or who are defending such choices, should spell out to their benefactors that they are paskening in accordance with those particular explanations of that particular view in the Gemara, and explain on what basis they are paskening in such a way.

  40. and explain on what basis they are paskening in such a way

    Because they, as is commonplace in normative Orthodox Jewry today, pasken consistently like the Mishnah Berurah (Beiur Halachah 156,231), and Rav Moshe Feinstein (IM YD II 116).

  41. Haven't looked at Igros Moshe yet, but I'm confused as to why you think that the Biyur Halacha is at all relevant.

  42. ביאור הלכה סימן קנו

    אבל אנשים יחידים יוכל להמצא בכל עת באופן זה... ובפרט אם כבר נמצאו אנשים שרוצים להספיק לו צרכיו כדי שיעסוק בתורה בודאי לא שייך זה ויששכר וזבלון יוכיח:

    IOW - he paskens that individuals may rely on RSHBY, and if others are willing to support them then the premise of the Shulchan Aruch סופה בטילה, due to lack of funds, is inoperative.

    ביאור הלכה סימן רלא

    ואיך יעלה על הדעת שיורה בכגון זה הרב ז"ל שיותר טוב לאדם לאחוז בסכלות וחסרון החכמה כל ימיו אשר הוא גרמא לכמה נזקין ומכשלות תלמוד המביא לידי מעשה ולמנוע טוב מבעליו מפני היותו נהנה מאת אחיו

    שו"ת אגרות משה חלק יו"ד ב סימן קטז

    ולכן הוא דין ברור ופשוט שנתקבל בכל הדורות אם מדינא אם מתקנה דעת לעשות לה' הפרו תורתך שמותר לעסוק בתורה ולהתפרנס מקבלת פרס... ואין להמנע מזה אפילו ממדת חסידות. ואני אומר כי אלו המתחסדים מצד שיטת הרמב"ם הוא בעצת היצה"ר כדי שיפסיק מללמוד ויעסוק במלאכה ובמסחר וכדומה ... לכן לא יעלה על מחשבתך עצת היצה"ר שיש בקבלת פרס דלומדים בכוללים ופרס דרבנים ומלמדים וראשי ישיבה איזה חטא וחסרון מדת חסידות, שהוא רק להסית לפרוש מן התורה.

  43. How is any of that relevant to what we are discussing?

  44. שו"ת אגרות משה יורה דעה חלק ד סימן לו

    ולא מובן מה שמע"כ ידידי הביא ממה דתניא בקידושין דף כ"ט ע"א בברייתא, שחייב האב ללמד את בנו אומנות ... ואינו קשה כלל, דהא מדינא דגמ' (נדרים ל"ז ע"א מה אני בחינם אף אתם נמי בחינם) אסור ליקח שכר, והיו מוכרחין ללמדם גם אומנות. אבל בדורותינו שהתירו ליקח שכר, אדרבא מהא שמלמדו האב תורה הרי הוא ממילא גם כמלמדו אומנות, אם לימדו כל כך שראוי ללמד לאחרים וראוי להיות רב באיזה מקום, ויהיה לו גם פרנסה מזה.

    In other words, since taking money for Torah is permitted, the whole obligation to teach one's child a trade is covered by teaching him Torah. That's the relevance.

  45. Yes, IF one teaches one's child the skills to be employed as a rabbi, AND there are opportunities for employment that way. But both are rarely found. Most people learning in kollel are not learning to be poskim or community rabbonim. And there are very few employment opportunities - certainly not enough for even a fraction of all the people in kollel.

  46. And there are very few employment opportunities - certainly not enough for even a fraction of all the people in kollel.

    You'll need to prove that assertion. Taking all the teaching opportunities in all the burgeoning communities with multiple kids, creating many teaching jobs, and all the other kodesh employment opportunities, it is enough to put bread on the table for most. Unemployment is rampant. Is it much more rampant among people leaving Kollel seeking employment versus the general population? I'd like statistics.

  47. Okay. I am wrong about the Tashbatz. 4LL is right. I will no longer take the track that kollel is wrong to all rishonim.

  48. But note that in teshuvah 148 Tashbatz says that it is better to learn less and be self-supportive.

  49. This debate is getting surreal and is actually a good example of one of the many halachic topics that may provide for an interesting (for some) chabura on a cold Thursday night in Yeshiva, but are worthless when it comes to practical application.

    Talk about missing the forest for the trees!!!

    The crux of the matter here is whether an entire community, comprising a significant percentage of the country's population (as opposed to the Amish), can decide that it need not contribute to the country's military and economy, while still benefiting from the protection of that military and the social services provided by that economy.

    So we get a yeshivish discussion as to how to interpret a few words in a Rishon or Acharon, in statements almost none of which were made in a context remotely similar to the current context (an autonomous Jewish state) or intended to be applied on such a large scale.

    I don't want to say that the sources being quoted here are entirely irrelevant to the discussion. But they're pretty close. And an injection of common sense is also missing in most of the comments from both sides here, although I think it lurks in the background for RNS.

  50. Ok so the tashbatz is not talking about participation in a milchemet mitzvah. I agree that is a different subject. But one he in fact says that kollel is permitted it sheds light on the subject. This debate between the rambam and the tashbatz is very relevant. --because it show how some kollels can be in fact places were you can see they are involved in real Torah learning and doing it sincerely. and it helps to show how the system is abused. as usual an argument between rishonim has the quality of penetrating into the depths of a subjects.

  51. Everything begins and ends with common sense (obviously, with a lot of Torah in the middle) and knowing when what you're discussing can actually be applied to real-life situations, knowing what's (lehavdil) academic and what's not.

    Unfortunately, there's very little evidence of this in the this thread.

  52. i see from the comments that this is a discussion about kollel in general, but the post itself is about children of kollel families. as such AFAIK it is only true in EY. in chu'l children of kollel families are open to going to work and in fact do so. it might not be happening in significant quantities but they aren't locked into the system. [actually, the parents aren't either.] kollel men themselves have that option but probably take advantage of that at a later age than some of their children who go to work even before marriage. since the child in chu'l doesn't have to go the IDF [with its physical and reported spiritual dangers] before going to work, parents resist less. IMHO this should be noted in future discussion of this aspect of kollel life, and maybe even this post should be revised so as to reflect this.


  53. another limited point is that if the kollel family lives with enough sense of purpose, and the parents work and invest time to create an atmosphere of joy, the children are better able to live in certain types of 'poverty'.

    [have you read r e feldman's 'tales out of jerusalem' article where he refers to you [not by name]? sorry i don't have the page # here. i got the idea of 'purpose' from that article.]


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