Wednesday, February 4, 2015

How Can You Look Me In The Eye?

A full-page advertisement for the Adopt-a-Kollel organization presents a letter from the director with a heart-wrenching plea for help. "People don't have food. Literally. Children go hungry." The situation is awful.

And then the director asks: "How can you look a Rosh Kollel in the eyes when he says he has 12 children at home and cannot feed them breakfast?"

I must confess that I find the structure of this question deeply disturbing.

How can we look him in the eyes?!

This is a person who is the pinnacle of success in charedi society - a Rosh Kollel. And he can't even provide his children with food! But he's not seeking work that pays a wage, and probably doesn't have the education to get a decent job anyway. Instead, he's carrying on in his failed occupation. And, to make things twelve times worse, he is doubtless bringing up his twelve children in exactly the same failed way - without any secular education, and relentlessly taught that they should go to kollel rather than seek training and employment.

How can he look us in the eyes?! How can others be asked to fulfill his basic needs, when he is not taking the most basic steps to stop making this problem catastrophically worse?

I would gladly contribute generously to help someone who recognizes that this approach is wrong, and who is seeking employment, and more importantly who is raising his children on a path of education and employment. But how does it help to perpetuate a situation that is going to get twelve times worse with each generation?

The letter talks about the tragedy of kollels closing. But isn't that exactly what needs to happen? It's the proliferation of kollels that is causing this ever-worsening humanitarian disaster!

The letter shouts that "There must be a paradigm shift here in America and around the world!"

I fully agree. But I think that we're talking about a different kind of paradigm shift. If we seriously care about the future of our children, that's what it's going to take.

77 comments:

  1. I had the identical argument discussion with a fellow Shul-goer after my NW London put up a lengthy email from the Director of Adopt-A-Kollel (I didn't read it all, but I think the gist was praising the work they have done to support so many Kollelim).

    My argument was that I have little interest in donating to a cause (a) whose protagonists' suffering is self-inflicted, and (b) where my donations are helping perpetuate a broken system on the verge of collapse, to the long term detriment of those receiving the donations.

    My conversationist responded that he agreed in principle - but 'Lemaaseh' these children are indeed starving. The system won't change overnight, and even if it will, it will be a long, slow transition. In the meantime mouths will need to be fed.

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    1. In the meantime, these people need to show that they are serious about helping their children. They need to understand that if they want the children to be fed, they have to show us this.

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    2. That's exactly the pitch in my shul as well. The Rav stands at the bima and says, "Forget about politics, there are starving children." Which, of course, is sadly true. Luckily there are other charities that help feed starving children without simultaneously perpetuating the very thing that is making them starve.

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    3. Perhaps someone can organise a separate campaign 'Adopt a poor Jewish family' - then again, there are many many such Tzedokos already in existence - eg Yad Eliezer.

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    4. Okay, they're starving. And if we shovel money into this metaphorical hole then in the future they will starve again when the current donations run out.
      So let's make a deal: give us your children, we'll raise them in healthy homes where productivity alongside Torah is taught and you don't have to worry about them starving anymore.
      No? Don't want that because "a pure Torah-true environment" is all that's appropriate for them? Sorry, can't help.

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    5. > So let's make a deal: give us your children, we'll raise them in healthy homes where productivity alongside Torah is taught and you don't have to worry about them starving anymore.
      No? Don't want that because "a pure Torah-true environment" is all that's appropriate for them? Sorry, can't help.

      No, don't want that because separating parents from their children is a horrible thing.

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    6. Make the aid contingent on the men leaving kollel and taking vocational training, joining the IDF or getting a full time job.

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  2. He writes 'these yungerleit...are the pe'er of the briah'.

    Is he correct?

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  3. The ad says that the Avreichim aren't complaining but the letters in Mishapacha say otherwise. The 2 letters they published a week and a half ago were frustrated and angry. See my post here http://jewishworker.blogspot.co.il/2015/01/why-is-charedi-poverty-getting-worse_25.html

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  4. "It's the proliferation of kollels that is causing this ever-worsening humanitarian disaster!"

    Yes... 500 kollels (probably more)!??? In addition to the great yeshivos gedolos????!! Yikes.

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  5. You are one step ahead of me. Usually the rashei kollel are loaded as they take 30-50% of the revenues. They manage to buy apts in Jerusalem for their kids for 2M shekels each. Its the avreichim who are broke.
    I think that to combat the insanity, a different approach should be tried.
    As a chutznik living in Israel, I notice a big difference in rabbis in chul and rabbis here. It is rare for rabbis in chul to get wealthy from their job. Rabbis, educators, roshei kollel, can barely expect to earn an average salary if that. Here it is reversed. The majority of the tzibbur is dead broke, and the roshei yeshiva are buying apartments for their kids. Just think about the numbers, the state cut funding for yeshivas last year by 340M shekels. I am sure that more than 170 apartments were bought this year by the communal leadership with money raised abroad.
    If rabbis salaries in Israel were to be limited somehow, we'd get a lot of positive reactions. 1. Less money would be necessary. 2. Not all of the children would go get rabbi jobs as it isn't an easy job, and the money isn't great. That would lessen the whole communal pressure to push kollel indefinitely for all, and then go become a rosh kollel.

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  6. I would support an effort that provides for these impoverished families if they will make a commitment to seek gainful employment. They don't even have to leave kollel, perhaps just scale back the hours (my understanding is that this model works for the Lakewood community). I agree that it is folly to support a system which perpetuates this failed model, but I am moved by the pleas of starving Jews. I don't think this is a zero-sum situation, but it certainly requires a reworking of the kollel system

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  7. "This is a person who is the pinnacle of success in charedi society - a Rosh Kollel. And he can't even provide his children with food!"

    Yes, that does say it all. It's very sad. That society has utterly lost its way.

    To Baal Haboss - I've heard that argument too, that LIMAISAH they need help. OK, so their are other ways to help. By giving to this "adopt a koillel" thing, or Ezras Torah, one is merely perpetuating a problem, and is not helping.
    BTW, general society learned this a long time ago. There are signs posted around my city stating that giving handouts to panhandlers is not helping them. As always, Jews are always a little bit behind. Eventually we will come to recognize this too.

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  8. I don't know about the rest of you, but I personally am horrified by the way they wrote "firsthand" as two words.

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  9. The problem lies in the fact that theses yungerleit were taught from day 1 to raise big families and not pay attention to working. The poverty rate is 67%!!!! The same people who are their leaders created a system are the same people hurting them. At the end of the day there are alot of hungry Jewish ppl.

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  10. My conversationist responded that he agreed in principle - but 'Lemaaseh' these children are indeed starving.

    It was perceived that the same problem existed in the US, with "welfare" payments leading to greater dependency. The solution (passed in 1996) was to tie limit the length of benefits and force those getting benefits to train and then work (so-called "workfare"): Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act.

    This aligns with the suggestion of some here, that money should be given to programs that provide job training and pay a stipend in the meantime to keep the family afloat. Paying people not to work makes things worse.

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    1. I understand the demographics and scale are different, but did this strategy work in the US?

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    2. It is very hard to disentangle all the different causes and effects, but, yes, it appears to have worked. Here is something that I found quickly through google:

      The average number of people receiving cash benefits from Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), the name welfare has gone by since 1996, has fallen from 12.6 million that year to 4.6 million in 2011. "Caseloads declined by 54 percent. Sixty percent of mothers who left welfare found work, far surpassing predictions of experts," President Clinton wrote in a 2006 op-ed in the New York Times. "Child poverty dropped to 16.2 percent in 2000, the lowest rate since 1979, and in 2000, the percentage of Americans on welfare reached its lowest level in four decades."

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  11. 1 Lilmod 2 Ulelamed,3 Lishmor 4 Velaasot 5 Ulekayem, they are stuck at number 1 and they want us to help them jump straight to number 5,

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    1. I forgot my handleFebruary 5, 2015 at 1:25 AM

      And if they are stuck at 1, then you are presumably stuck at zero. 1 is infinitely greater than 0...

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    2. Thank you for reminding us of one of the other reasons that we are reluctant to help: the condescending ass-umption that people who are Charedi do not learn.

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    3. I see I have an unfortunate mistake in my previous post. The text should read: that people who are not Charedi...

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  12. Kollels contribute to society even though they don't generate revenue. Klal Yisroel has the obligation to take care of its Rosh Kollels and those who learn in kollel. Sorry, but I agree strongly with this post.

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    1. I meant, "disagree strongly"

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    2. Hakem Takim *Imo*

      When you're helping people out, you have the right to presume that they want to (if not are actively taking steps) to remedy their own situation.

      If person A doesn't drive and asks me for a ride somewhere, I might say yes out of the kindness of my heart. But that doesn't mean that I have any moral obligation to continue giving him a ride every time he needs one if he has the possibility of remedying his own situation.

      The people who learn in kollel and are not making ends meet are not taking active, positive steps to remedy their situation -- on the contrary, they are taking steps to ensure that it continues.

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    3. And that obligation is, aside from helping the needy in general...?

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    4. Yup. And you also apparently disagree strongly with all the Rishonim, who maintained that a person should support his own family rather than demand that the community support him, and you also apparently disagree strongly with Chazal, who said that a person is obligated to teach his son a trade. See http://www.rationalistjudaism.com/2012/06/economics-of-torah-scholarship-in.html

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    5. In fact Chazal were incredibly nuanced and far from conclusive on this issue. I've quoted the gemora in Eruvin of the Rabbi who consigned his family to scavenging in the swamp while he learned. In yevamos the destructive power of scholarship is explicit Adam ki yamus bohel. Obviously there is a socioeconomic diaster going on now; and equally obviously this is not a new phenomema. I am not advocating the kollel lifestyle; but this is not a discussion which is black and white, to which an explicit halachic ruling pertains. Schaudenfreud hardly helps.

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    6. Moniker - he didn't send his family to go begging.

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    7. Moniker, 2 comments:

      1) "I am not advocating the kollel lifestyle; but this is not a discussion which is black and white, to which an explicit halachic ruling pertains." But this is precisely the problem! There *is* an explicit ruling that we can't (generally) work on Shabbos, so we admire people who put themselves through great difficulty to support this. (There has also been a lot of sympathy for those how were forced to work on Shabbos for a living).

      Here there is "Obviously there is a socioeconomic disaster going on now", so a few statements here are there not enough to override the general principle that it incumbent to avoid poverty and charity as a source of income, both with regard to self and to your children.

      2) "In fact Chazal were incredibly nuanced and far from conclusive on this issue." I don't think that this is a fair summary (but feel free to rebut my ignorance). The basic halacha which must apply to the vast majority is that one must educate his son in a trade (to the point where one is not culpable for accidentally killing him in the act disciplining him for this purpose!). Similarly one is not generally allowed to put himself in poverty and rely on charity (to the extent that one should make his Shabbos "Chol" if he can't afford to buy special food for Shabbos.).

      You will find statements here and there about specific people that were not intended to be adopted by everyone. Would you say that since Ben Azzai avoided marriage and children because of his love of Torah, that Chazal were incredibly nuanced about the Mitzvah to have children as applied to the masses? Of course not.

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    8. Betzalel, it's the problem of the English professor. It is beneficial to society for there to be professors of English literature, but it is detrimental to have a society that consists of English professors. Similarly here, it is good for society that there be full time torah scholars, but a society of full time torah scholars is not good.

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    9. Rabbi Slifkin, it's ironic that you are asking for donations for the paper that you wrote in the link. You are demanding that the community support you for these Torah studies; why shouldn't the community support Kollel people for their Torah studies?

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    10. Rabbi Slifkin has opened, and is running, a museum that is intended to be a money-making enterprise to support him and his family. I would assume he has at least one or two other sources of income as well.

      There is a world of difference between "I have this hobby I do in my spare time, and if you enjoy the fruits of my labor think about contributing to it" and "My children are starving, give me money so I don't actually have to support them".

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    11. The crucial differences are (A) that I am providing a product, (B) that I am not *demanding* support - if it doesn't work, then I am able to obtain parnasa in other ways. and (C) that I am raising my children to work for a living

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    12. dlz - kal v'chomer! Not only did Rabbi bar Msanah's refusal to engage become a burden to others, he became a burden to his own family.

      David Ohsie. Nuance - Rabbi Yishmael versus Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai in Berachos 23b. Abbaye clearly favour Rabbi Yishmael, but is understatedly nuanced in expressing it (c.f. Brisker Ravon the Torah", Parshat Chayei Sarah quoted here http://ohr.edu/ask_db/ask_main.php/3/Q2/) .

      "a few statements here are there" - you have posted yourself often enough about confirmation bias. See Rabbi Slifkin's materially fair post http://www.rationalistjudaism.com/2013/05/is-it-better-to-be-supported-in.html for recent Rabbinic sources - there are plenty of voices and sources on both sides of this debate.

      Agree with you that as a matter of public policy the consensus view is that kollel for the masses is wrong. Hence requirement to teach son a trade in Kiddushin. Disagree on perjorative disrespect of a well sourced legitimate dissenting view.

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    13. dlz - kal v'chomer! Not only did Rabbi bar Msanah's refusal to engage become a burden to others, he became a burden to his own family.

      This is not at all what the Gemara says. It says that he went to Bais Midrash, and that when his wife complained that there was nothing for the kids, he answered that there was enough food even if it was really poor food called קורמי which grows in the marsh. He didn't ask for charity or tell his children to collect charity. He was (cruelly) saying to his family that they had enough to eat; thus, he was not obligated to do more.

      Moreover, since you mention subtlety, here is the whole thing (Soncino translation): Raba explained: With him who can bring himself to be cruel to his children and household like a raven, as was the case with R. Adda b. Mattenah. He was about to go away to a schoolhouse when his wife said to him, ‘What shall I do with your children?’ — ‘Are there’, he retorted: ‘no more herbs in the marsh?’

      Do you think that this means that there is a general prescription to be cruel to one's children (and wife) in order to spend time learning and that this was typical behavior? Or perhaps the Gemara is saying that if you want to be great in truly Torah, you have to go to extremes, with this example be an single outlier that demonstrates the general principle?

      David Ohsie. Nuance

      You did not address at all my response. There is lots of nuance in the Torah. You have to show the the nuance actually supports your point. Otherwise, you get the result that the masses needed not get married or have children because Ben Azzai exempted himself.

      http://ohr.edu/ask_db/ask_main.php/3/Q2/

      I don't agree with everything written there, but guess what, the conclusion of that piece is that the masses must work! Also, it says nothing about teaching children a trade. It is believable that of all Charedim who actually are on the level of Rashbi and possibly exampt from working that all of their children are also on Rashbi's level? Today's situation is completely divorced from the theoretical possibilities implied by these sources.

      "a few statements here are there" - you have posted yourself often enough about confirmation bias. See Rabbi Slifkin's materially fair post http://www.rationalistjudaism.com/2013/05/is-it-better-to-be-supported-in.html for recent Rabbinic sources - there are plenty of voices and sources on both sides of this debate.

      First off, obviously *today*, there are lot of very learned Charedi Rabbis who know more than I ever will, who support this. The question discussed here is whether or not this is really traditional. I did not look inside at the source that R Slifkin mentions, but based on his summary, R. Moshe is not dealing with mass poverty, collecting door to door, or an exemption from teaching one's child a trade, but the question of whether or not one can accept someone's support in order to learn full time. And he appears to say that it may not be permissible, but that he is permitted to take the money because the circumstances of his time allows the prohibition to be violated! So much for showing that this has always been a valid option.

      Agree with you that as a matter of public policy the consensus view is that kollel for the masses is wrong. Hence requirement to teach son a trade in Kiddushin. Disagree on perjorative disrespect of a well sourced legitimate dissenting view.

      Is it really an example of "pejorative disrespect" to point out that the sources don't really support the current situation and in fact seem to predict the bad outcome that has occurred?


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  13. Then who is going to want to be Rosh kollel if nobody is willing to support him?

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    1. There are heterim to support teachers. That is not the same as supporting people in kollel.

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    2. Firstly, the whole tone of your question is IMO wrong. Why the focus on supporting "Rosh Kollels" - we are talking about the Kollel members here.

      More importantly, maybe there are too many Kollelim to support (500!) - "ayn hakometz masbia es ho'ari"

      It is not dissimilar to an over-saturated market where not everyone can land a position.

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    3. But Kollel people *are* teachers.

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    4. Where I live in Baltimore, the community kollel is packed with people, not just full-time learners. There are shiurim going on all of the time in the evenings.That's what I think of when you say kollel. It's done a great service for the community, keeping it strong in learning.

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    5. Moreover, who decides whether or not a Kollel and its Rosh Kollel should be supported or not? Can I declare myself a Rosh Kollel and demand support? Presumably, I could, but only if I can get enough supporters to agree that it is a good idea.

      Maybe a Rosh Kollel who can't raise the money for his Kollel should shut down and find another line of business?

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    6. Betzalel, we are not talking about a US community kollel, we are talking about kollels in Israel. Very different.

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    7. I too live in Baltimore. I believe there is more than one community kollel here. The one I am somewhat familiar with has people giving the shiurim who by day either work in computers (at least one magid shiur does, that I know) or are rebbes in some of the schools in the area. I do not know if they get any money for giving the shiurim in the evening.

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    8. > Then who is going to want to be Rosh kollel if nobody is willing to support him?

      You say this as if there must of course be a Rosh Kollel, so it is imperative that people support him. So no one will want to be Rosh Kollel. So what?

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  14. Betzalel-
    The Jewish people can, if they wish on an individual basis, support all the kollel students they want. The question is whether the Israeli taxpayer is required to finance every man who says he wants to learn in kollel indefinitely. The Israeli taxpayer, through his elected representatives has been willing to subsidize Torah studies at at levels but there is a limit to how much they are willing to fund this. That is what the argument today is about.

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  15. This is in part the result of the new Chashivishness, which is a blend of Chasidic qualitieis and yeshivish. There's an emotionalism that you didn't find in the old litvacks that doesn't mix well with the Litivish logic. The result is a bizarre new world.

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  16. The more I read this ad, the more it angers me. "They are the pe'er of the briah", it says. That sentence sums up everything that's wrong with that whole community:

    1. Learn to speak English. These are not unique words or concepts that cannot be translated.

    2. These people are the "glory of all creation"? Is it possible to even think of a more arrogant sentence than that?

    3. And to apply that sentence to people who can't even provide for the basics of their family? That's what people should be ASPIRING to???

    4. And finally, its so not true. There's nothing special at all about kollel guys or rosh kollels. To the contrary, the overwhelming majority are mediocre at best. They are the ones who just stay in kollel because they have no aspirations or drive of their own. In my experience, the best and the brightest go on to business, finance and medicine, and a close second tier goes into law or accounting. There are exceptions, of course. But the "glory of creation?" Don't make me laugh. They're not even the best guys in the local shul

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    1. Actually yes. Torah is the glory above creation and people who dedicate themselves to its study are surely the glory of creation. Who else are the glory of creation? Scum-of-the-earth financiers? What a joke. They dedicate their lives to Money, fame, and power. Koller guys learn the HOLY TORAH all day. That makes them special!

      This of course has nothing to do with the question in the article. Respect for the true bnei torah is elementary.

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    2. "These people are the "glory of all creation"? Is it possible to even think of a more arrogant sentence than that?"

      It's very likely the writer realized how ridiculous it sounded when he wrote it in English. Therefore, he wrote it in Hebrew. Because now its not ridiculous.

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    3. It's not ridiculous in any language. What is the purpose of creation?

      You people are making a very basic mistake. As religious Jews, we believe that the entire purpose of creation is Torah study and observance. The jobs and careers that we have are only in order to allow us to live and prosper, so that we can serve G-D. They have no importance in themselves. While I agree wholeheartedly with R. Slifkin that the current system is broken and wrong, the fact remains that these Koller guys dedicate their entire lives to the Torah. Therefore, they are the Pe'er Habriya in every language!

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    4. I forgot my handleFebruary 6, 2015 at 1:02 AM

      They may not be the best at the local shul, CZ Levitansky, but I'll bet that overwhelmingly, though they are mediocre, they are a helluva lot better than you.

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    5. Don't conflate a person's choice of language or their wealth with their moral stature.

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    6. I don't believe that learning Torah is the purpose of creation. Learning is not even one of the Taryag Mitzvot. The purpose of creation is actually unstated, except by Man. On the other hand, as a believing Jew, I do understand that the Torah's commandments are to be followed. The purpose of those commandments are largely irrelevant. And again, learning aint one of them.

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  17. You can argue with the deluded. They lack logical thinking.
    Here's a guy who dedicates his life to "Learn, don't earn". Why? Because God provides, because a man's income is decided on Rosh HaShanah so why not sit back and just let it happen, because the world was created for this purpose and all who engage in it will be looked after, etc.
    Yet here he is, dirt poor and raising his children in an environment that trailer park families would look down on.
    So is this a lie? And if it is, then what else is? Doesn't he know the damage he will cause to the marginally Torah observant?

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    1. Gabriel, I think you hit the nail on the head. The issue is not only the people in kollel. It is also other Jews. What does it say about Judaism is you see these stories of absolute misery and poverty. What will a moderate Orthodox person think about Judaism if these people are trumpeted as the example that one should aspire to. Does that not raise questions in his mind about what Judaism stands for and leads to? Will that not lead to a diminution in religious observance by people who tend to think more for themselves? Will we not be creating a vicious cycle in which Orthodox Judaism simply attracts the non-thinking followers?

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  18. Fully agree with Rabbi Slifkin but what does he suppose we do with all the starving families. We know with almost certainty that most of these kollel members will not got to work, even though they should, so how do we take care of the kids who through no fault of their own are suffering?
    Does halacha say we are absolved from helping a poor family even though the father is too lazy to work? No doubt the father should be working...but now what? Until their leadership wakes up we unfortunately have to help. I wish there was a better way.....but leaving them hungry doesn't seem to be the correct course.

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  19. When any fundraising-supported institution with integrity loses support, be it a kollel, a charity or lehavdil an orchestra, it must close its doors. It's certainly sad when a second-trombone must change his career and masquerade as an accountant, but that's what a shomer-ketubah mensch does to support his children.

    That approach works in America, except for the sinas-chinam divide between those who view able-bodied male welfare recipients as falsely-pious worthless bums whose litters dilute the gene pool, and those who rationalize accepting welfare and consider working tax-and-tuition-payers to be spiritually inferior bitachon-lacking pathetic small-family suckers. It reminds me of the Cold War, as epitomized in this classic cartoon:
    http://www.gocomics.com/bloomcounty/1986/04/10

    However, that approach isn't necessarily applicable to Israel, where non-veteran conscientious-objector hareidi men face legal barriers to training and employment. I can imagine the ad: "Repeal the barriers - if we must leave kollel and make bricks, do not deny us straw."

    Fundraising may well consist of payoffs directing taxpayer funds to buy hareidi bloc votes, much to the chagrin of the taxpayers. This is a messy and difficult political problem, and its public face should be the starving hareidi children who are the grass trampled when elephants fight. Simple, radical solutions are just not feasible, such as "draft all hareidim," "abolish the draft," or "breed all you want - we'll pay more taxes," but I wish our Israeli brethren hatzlacha in working something out.

    I'm grateful for the kollel system, and exist because my rich great-great-grandpa supported his son-in-law, my poor scholarly great-grandpa, who worked as a machinist when the funding ended.

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    1. I forgot my handleFebruary 6, 2015 at 1:05 AM

      What "sinas-chinam" divide? I only hear sinas chinam from you:

      """those who rationalize accepting welfare and consider working tax-and-tuition-payers to be spiritually inferior bitachon-lacking pathetic small-family suckers"""

      How many of "those" are there, Robert? Really? Enough to be part of a sinas-chinam divide?

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    2. It concerns me that real sinas-chinam will be the socially-and-spiritually-dangerous result of shooting the messengers and Jedi-mind-tricking away "class warfare" concerns that place our fellow Jews under clouds of suspicion, making it increasingly difficult to judge each other favorably.

      While no one person has combined all those stereotypes into a single grand mal tirade against me personally, I've read and heard enough public and private grumbling over the years to believe that such a divide sadly exists, and would be interested in links to statistically-valid research and polling on the subject.

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  20. Adopt-a-Kollel exposes the lie that charedim go into kollel and willingly accept poverty because its the way of Torah. If they are so willing to accept it, then why are streaming to Adopt-a-Kollel for handouts? And don't try to distinguish between different gradations of poverty. If "they're not complaining" as the ad speciously claims, and this is something they aspire to be, then there's no reason for Adopt a Kollel to begin with. They want to acquire Torah, and they want to be poor, and they've got what they wanted. What's that - you say they really don't want to be poor? So maybe they don't really want to acquire Torah either......?

    Also agreed with Garnel Ironhearts comments above. It doesn't actually cause a lack of faith among the marginally observant, because in reality, no one, outside of ballei teshivah and the more naïve cahredim themselves, believes a word of charedi propaganda. But theoretically, yes, their doctrine could be harmful if anyone ever took it seriously.

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    1. How dumb is that??? They choose poverty, therefore let them starve...

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    2. The guy who defends the notion that koillel avreichim are "the glory of all creation" is the same guy who uses a phrase like "how dumb is that." That's they way people who look up to koillel talk. Says a lot.

      In any event, the point is that they're getting exactly what they wanted. If they're coming for handouts, it means either that thousands of the best and most brilliant minds of the charedim, didn't realize what was waiting for them, or it means that they never were truly interested in that lifestyle to begin with. Either way, it doesn't speak well for them.

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  21. I propose each neighborhood open up a "kitchen" where these starving people can get their meals. We can surely donate to these kitchens, as well as getting some wealthy Jews to subsidize it. There is a lot of good food being thrown out each week from chassanas, and hotels. Also, tzedaka orgs can also distribute. Not a long vision cure, but I'm sure a well deserved one.

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    1. This is happening. The only way that this society has been functioning at all is the Gemach system of communal sharing of resources. Additionally, there are organizations that gather food from chassanas and hotels, as well as produce from fields that cannot be sold commercially, and distributed. Here is one: http://www.leket.org/english/ There are multiple tzedaka organizations and soup kitchens. Waste is bad and there will always be people who cannot make it for various reasons.

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  22. I forgot my handleFebruary 8, 2015 at 2:47 AM

    Although adopt-a-kollel doesn't jibe with my tastes, I don't see why so many of you find it so offensive. The concept of supporting adult, heads of household, Torah students is nothing new. And, historically/traditionally, Jewish communities have provided that support almost unquestioningly and with the understanding that there could be undeserving and substandard recipients mixed in.

    In truth, I think that adopt-a-kollel was really a political response of Jews of the Diaspora trying to throw their influence at the politics of Israeli cultural identity. I would say that they have been quite successful, so far. I have not given a dime to this campaign, but I can completely understand the "yetzer" that is driving it.

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  23. "How can you look me in the eye?" If I ever heard a statement indicative of a sense of entitlement, that is it. How dare someone who neglects his kesuba and thousands of years of Jewish tradition, claim that it is incumbent upon us to clean up his wilfully made mess!

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  24. I have to put a qualifier on John Jay's comment thatt he jobs or professions we do have no importance in and of themselves. That is not the case in Eretz Israel. The Torah clearly teaches us that in Eretz Israel we are supposed to have a functioning nation-state with all professions....teachers, doctors, engineers, soldiers, farmers, garbage-collectors, in addition to some full-time Torah students. It is not considered desirable for everyone to be full-time kollel student. This was the mistake the "meraglim" (the Spies) made in the desert in parshat Shelach. They wanted everyone to stay pure and holy in the desert and not get involved in the messy business of conquering and running a country.
    No less an authority than the Hatam Sofer said something to the effect that growing vegetables in Eretz Israel is just like putting on tefillin. (please correct me if this is inaccurate)

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  25. Stop the hate. Obviously HaShem has his ways. He has His ways and he has shown His pleasure with this way of living, Never before in history has Knesses Yisroel seen such riches in its midst,. Those that will merit it, will support Torah learning in its current beautiful form. You will not be a part of it!!

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    1. He's shown His pleasure by having their children starve?

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    2. Darchey-ha darchei noam. If it's current form is starving children in an age of plenty, then it's certainly a 'beautiful form'. (And don't answer that it's mesirus nefesh to learn Torah when one's children are hungry ------ there's no famine in Israel. Get a job so you can learn Torah and eat too. That's the beauty of Torah. You can live it.

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  26. While I agree with the sentiment of the post, there is another problem with the Rosh Kollel that has been ignored. Not only has he contributed to his own impoverishment, by pursuing a failed business model but who told him to have twelve kids which he could not provide for.

    Part of the reason his kids are going hungry is because he has too many mouths to feed. There is also an element of personal accountability that he must answer regarding unrestricted proliferation.

    I would also contend, even if he could financially afford to raise twelve kids, can he invest sufficiently well psychologically in their welfare. Having so many children is a form of child abuse.

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  27. (this comment supersedes the previous one)
    How about "Adopt a Kollel-nik" ---- "This is your chance to mamash act like a kollelnik's father and fulfill a father's obligation of teaching his son a trade. Your donation will go towards JOB-TRAINING for the (former-) Kollelnik so that he can be a good father for his children."
    It occured to me that it is remarkably ironic to talk about ADOPTING a Kollel when chazal make it clear that a father has a dual obligation: teach your son Torah and teach your son a profession.

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  28. How does one know which Israeli charities are "kolel-free", i.e. aren't going to give the money towards perpetuating the poverty crisis caused by kolel?
    Is Yad Eliezer a good one? I've given to them since they looked really good, but perhaps as a non-Israeli, I'm never quite sure where money ever goes in Israeli charities.

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