Friday, December 25, 2020

Kollel, 1943-2020

As I discussed in my monograph "The Making of Haredim," the modern concept of the kollel began in 1943. There was the Kovno Kollel and others that began in the nineteenth century, but they were rabbinic training schools, with a program lasting three to five years.

In marked contrast to all these was the type of kollel first established by Rav Aharon Kotler in 1943, in Lakewood. There was no time limit placed upon studying there, because its purpose was fundamentally different from all those kollels that preceded it. Its goal was to have the study of Torah being performed “for its own sake,” as per the innovative definition of Rabbi Chaim of Volozhin. The students were specifically not to be preparing for a role in the rabbinate or the wider community. But the wider community was expected to provide financial support for this and similar institutions, based upon the new concept of the innate value of the Torah study.

The ultimate step in the evolution of the kollel, which spread in the latter part of the twentieth century, was its presentation as an expectation of every young man in the charedi community. In more moderate charedi circles in the United States, this is only expected for a year or two following marriage, while in the rest of charedi society in the US and Israel it is expected to continue for at least a decade or two, if not indefinitely. This is enabled by philanthropy in combination with government welfare.

Of course, such a system is not financially viable on a large scale for a long period. But Covid-19 accelerates its crash.

For many months now, unemployment in Israel has been around a shocking 20%, with nearly one million people unemployed. The economic aid is hundreds of billions of shekels, and the pandemic is not even over yet. The government is just not going to have the funds to help the voluntarily unemployed. And with Bibi's days being numbered, the charedim will lose a lot of political power, which is what they need to extract money from the rest of the country.

Meanwhile, the funds being donated by Jews in the Diaspora are also drying up. I'm on a mailing list for nonprofit fundraising and the message is very straightforward and bleak: Crisis. My own fundraising for the Biblical Museum of Natural History - an institution that our donors very much appreciate - has been immensely challenging this year. Most people just don't have the kinds of funds that they used to have. 

I'm not predicting that every kollel is going to immediately shutter its doors. But there is a crisis the likes of which is unprecedented, which will gradually force many people to have to leave kollel and search for a job - in numbers that will (hopefully) force a large-scale charedi rethink of the entire kollel-for-all concept.

But these people leaving kollel will find themselves competing for jobs with hundreds of thousands of others desperate for employment. Tragically, the people leaving kollel and searching for a job have no secular education and not much in the way of marketable skills. The price and suffering will be severe. One can only bemoan the systematic ignoring of Chazal's dictum that parents have the responsibility to educate their children with the ability to earn a living.

As I've been warning for years: the longer this broken system is propped up, the greater the crash when it finally inevitably collapses. Perhaps it's for the best that it's collapsing even sooner than I anticipated.

101 comments:

  1. I certainly have no information about what will happen in the future, but I will merely note that articles like this, predicting the immanent collapse of the kollel system, have appeared from time to time for at least the last 25 years.

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    1. The people in kollel today are not going to leave so quickly! They would get their wives to work harder, or just live in greater abstract poverty on a smaller budget. They have gotten so used to this system, that will not give it up so soon. They will just assume they will get more credit in olam haba for their sacrifice. As long as governments support the "SELF" unemployed, taking from the workers to pay for programs this system will continue.
      However, one day it will collapse like everything else, when there (not if) will be a huge economic collapse as we cannot keep printing money forever. We are not there yet and unfortunately there will always be those who take advantage of the system. This Covid is only a bump in the road for that lifestyle.

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  2. this is the second prediction of dramatic change in charedi ideology that you have recently made (the first was "the death of daas torah"). you are making these predictions based on applying your understanding of how the world works (a major element of your rationalist ideology) to what you believe to be the current circumstanses.
    if your predictions turn out not to be correct, presumably it would indecate that you were either mistaken about the circumstanses (possible but less likely) or that there is a flaw in your world view.
    so here is an excellent experiment that you can undertake. set a reasonable time limit (after all it is meaningless to predict the collapse of charedi ideology "sometime in the next 1000 years"), and criteria for what constitutes a collapse of the kollel system.
    then you prediction will become subject to falsification, and if it fails to pan out, you would have to reevalute your the validity of your understanding of current circumstanses or of your world view.

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    1. It *has to* die out - it's in the Torah!

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    2. "Daas Torah" died when R. Chsim Kanievsky had to reverse himself and tell the yeshivos the bochurim need to stay home. The Torah alone wasn't going to protect them.

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    3. The Reversal IS Daas Torah. Daas Torah is not following the dictates of Torah, its a phrase to describe the newly founded notion (last 150 years) that the heads of Yeshivot advise community members on aspects of life which include not just Torah but politics, what jobs to do, where to live, whether to stay hoem or not. It refers to a widening of guidance right down to the everyday decisions of community members. This was . is n start contrast to the older system of community rabbis advising on halachot and overseeing births, deaths and marriages.

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    4. When in the older system did Rabbonim 'oversee' deaths? Burials were conducted by the Chevra Kadisha, not Rabbonim.
      It is the Western World's innovation that requires a 'Rabbi' to 'officiate' at a funeral, although nobody can tell me what function this 'Rabbi' fills.

      Historically, community Rabbonim officiated at marriages, divorces and decided Jewish law for the town at large. They gave two speeches each year, just two. The Rabbi's sermon is borrowed from other religions.

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  3. The works of Shalom Aleichem constantly mock the husband sitting and learning while his wife struggles to make a living. The concept of a man learning his whole life existed in the 19th century but was less formalized than today. People studied at home or in a local beis medrash.

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    1. What works of Shalom Aleichem do you have in mind? Doesn’t fit Menachem Mendel.

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    2. Don't remember the story's names. One is of a woman preparing goose fat for Pesach and complaining that her husband learns while she slaves. The other is of a boy who's mother is cleaning for Pesach while the father is constantly learning and "helping" by moving from room to room.
      Here is a passage from a modern critique of Shalom Aleichem's story titled" A Woman's Word: Sholem Aleichem's “Genz”
      Efrat Bloom.
      Sounds like a discussion of the Kollel system:

      "Basia cannot directly and openly express her contempt for the order that
      burdened her with a studious husband and with sons whose education she must
      assure. In a society that sees women primarily as wives and mothers, reserving for
      them the duty of bringing up the next generation of learned men, it is impossible
      for Basia to admit, perhaps even to herself, the reluctance with which she
      approaches her parental and housewifely roles and the pleasure she finds, instead,
      in running single-handedly an enterprise that may actually be quite successful (“if
      God blesses the geese you can make a pretty ruble out of them”; E 121; Y 36).12
      And yet in its suppressed or repressed form, her contempt nevertheless infiltrates
      the monologue, leaving legible, unmistakable marks. “I got four boys,” Basia tells
      her listener, “not counting the girls”—as if only men count “toward” the burden
      she carries: men of learning, who would never lend a hand at home, etc.

      This content downloaded from
      212.76.105.136 on Sat, 26 Dec 2020 20:13:47 UTC
      All use subject to http
      174 y  Efrat Bloom
      PROOFTEXTS 35: 2-3
      well knows”13 (but the following sentence does not skip our notice: “Why should
      he work,” she makes reference to Nachman, “if I can take care of everything
      myself?” E 120; Y 34).

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    3. My great-grandmother got divorced from my great-grandfather because he didn't want to do anything besides learn (at least, that is her version of what happened). They lived in Austria-Hungary in the early years of the 20th century.

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    4. Presumably they meant to complain about their lazy husbands who learned more than they liked. We have actual numbers of yeshiva learners from Eastern Europe (none of them lifelong), and it was a tiny percentage of Eastern European Jewish men. Very, very few even went to cheder past the age of ten or so.

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    5. In his disguise as an adult "yeshiva student" while he was undercover and secretly running the Irgun, Menachem Begin was viewed as a sort of "bum" by the community he lived in because of that role they believed him to be living.

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    6. Nachum - your logic escapes me. Somehow the number of boys registered in Yeshivos for the young, during the inter-war period, is somehow proof to hundreds of years of history?!

      Haskala and Zionism stole our brightest and best, the most motivated and intellectual of our youth. Before they arrived, the brightest and best spent their time, or as much of it as possible, learning Torah and wisdom.

      The world then did not look like it does today. There was virtually no concept of working 9 to 5, or even 7 to 10. There were certain manual laborers who worked ever spare minute, but most didn't. There wasn't enough sewing business in the shtetl to keep the schneider constantly busy. Pre industrial revolution, office work was hardly done, especially by Yidden who were prevented from becoming lawyers.

      Once a week, on market day, people ran hither and thither, trying to scrape together a living. For the rest of the week, a large amount of the people in town were mostly bored. Some spent their time in Beis Hamedrash learning, and there is no record of their numbers. I wouldn't be surprised if their numbers were way higher than today's Kollel numbers.

      If we even count the amount of actual serving Rabbis during our history, there were many many more than there are today. A tiny village of a handful of families, had a Rabbi who eked a living from his wife's yeast concession. He did little more than study all day. Rabbis in those days were not expected to be counselors, pastors and who knows what. They didn't visit the sick, administer to the dead, and the collection of other activities that we have learned from galochim.

      The idea that Kollel is a new concept is based on an ignorance of history. It is based on a small picture of a tiny sliver of our past.

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    7. @ZV, don't know where you get your history from, but historically people worked harder and longer than they do now. And even now, in less advanced societies people work harder and longer. Here is a nice rundown: https://ourworldindata.org/working-hours

      I very much doubt all the shtetls were full of Talmidei Chachamim, in fact I think the opposite, but I would have to do more research.

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    8. There were obviously enough yungerman around to bother Shalom Aleichem. I suspect that a study of Haskolah literature would bring up a lot more similar material.

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    9. Believe in your fantasies if you want. The fact remains that the first yeshiva was founded decades after the advent of the Haskalah.

      Shalom Aleichem lived in the 20th century, by the way.

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    10. "I wouldn't be surprised if their numbers were way higher than today's Kollel numbers."

      You are having a laugh, right?

      We know the numbers in yeshivah back then. Approximately. Far far lower than today. Yet you suggest more where in kollel?

      What did they learn from? Have you seen the print qualify of those old seforim? Only the gifted were able to progress to much further then a siddur.

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    11. By redefining words, you get to change the language, not the facts.
      There were Yeshivos in the world for hundreds of years pre-haskala. The Maharsha was a Rosh Yeshiva, the Taz was a Rosh Yeshiva, centuries before Haskala started as a movement.
      You are confusing 'institutions' with the actual Yeshiva. Yeshivos do not need buildings, managing directors, PR departments and 'Chag Hasmicha' rituals. They were groups of people who learned at the feet of someone who was more learned.
      But none of that has anything to do with long-term learning. The long-term learning that has existed since time immemorial was not officially counted in any census, and those people were not members of any organization. But all literary descriptions of the shtetl include these people, some sympathetically, some apathetically, and most antagonistically.
      It is not just Sholom Aleichem, it is Sholom Asch and Yechiel Kotik, Yaakov Lifschitz and Fishl Schneeurson. There are many such descriptions from the last couple of hundred years, post-haskala. We don't have much literature from the years before, but it is alluded to in Halachic texts.

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    12. You're the one whose changing the language here, buddy, or at least using terms in their modern definition for completely different institutions.

      Of course there were yeshivot throughout Jewish history- since the time of the Amoraim at least. But they were *academies*. They were places people who were *already* learned went to learn more. The vast majority of people never set foot in one, apart maybe for yarchei kallah.

      Every single rav of a city in history, as part of his job definition, was required to maintain a yeshiva, usually in his home. But it was a yeshiva for "asarah batlanim" from that place who had already "learned" (which itself was something which very few did) and now did "shimush" at him- and usually went on to be rabbanim elsewhere. There must have been a few thousand Jews in Posen when the Maharsha had his yeshiva there. Ditto, the Jews in Ostroh during the time of the Taz. At no time would there have been more than a dozen- all locals- in their yeshivot. Mass enrollment of boys in yeshiva only started with Volozhin, and by the 1930's there were maybe a dozen yeshivot in all of Eastern Europe with a total of a couple of thousand students, and none of those were there for more than a few years.

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    13. You have no clue how many people learned under the Maharsha or the Taz. There are no official records, as there are no official records of perushim who learned long term, relying on their wives for parnossa.

      But you are still conflating two separate things. The Yeshivos for young people were one thing, long term 'Kollel' is something else. People staying in Beis Hamedrash for most of the day happened throughout our history. There is no official organization that recognized them, they aren't recorded in any census. Because those are mostly 20th century inventions. But they existed and we know a little about them from literature and Teshuva Seforim.
      If the only information you know about is the official numbers given to the Joint between the wars, you do not know much about society in those days, and certainly not in the days before the Joint's existence.

      And btw, very few people learn nowadays too. The vast majority of Jews unfortunately do not know what Alef Beis is.

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    14. ZV, people staying in the bais medrash most of the day seems to be a fantasy. Consider how hard people had to work just to survive. Where did they get the time to spend most of the day in the bais medrash? Most shtetl dwellers were עמי הארץ. Not only that, but child labor was common and necessary. Thus most kids didn't stay in school past bar mitzvah, if that. It is a tremendous chiddush that we have the wealth as a society for most kids to not work, and go to high school and college. Or in our case, "mesivta" and "bais medrash". Kal vchomer married men in kollel. This is a product of the incredible wealth of our modern society, that can afford to have a large portion of the population out of the labor force.

      If you read מעגל טוב of the חיד"א, where he travelled throughout Europe and North Africa, there was one place he travelled where it was common to find talmidei chachamim among the regular baalei batim- Morocco.

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    15. people staying in the bais medrash most of the day seems to be a fantasy.

      You are repeating yourself, that does not prove anything.

      Consider how hard people had to work just to survive. Where did they get the time to spend most of the day in the bais medrash?

      You are assuming that there was work available. When you live in a small town, and the road to the next town is too muddy for most of the year to use, industry is extremely stunted. What should people actually do with their time? Most jobs that we have nowadays, even entry-level low-paying ones, did not exist. What did they do? They starved, but what did they do with their time? Learning did not take away from working time, it took away from idling time. Idling was the biggest problem in the shtetl, not overwork.

      Most shtetl dwellers were עמי הארץ.

      Again, you don't know that, you assume so because you think that they all worked. There were amei ha'aretz all through history, and in those days they stayed religious so they were part and parcel of Jewish society. But a culture that revered scholars meant that even those who were not privileged to spend some years seriously learning tried to learn as much as they could, and tried to teach their children according to the best of their ability. And btw, most people nowadays are even bigger amei ha'aretz. They don't even know Alef-Beis.

      Not only that, but child labor was common and necessary.

      Again, if the labor was available. Post industrial revolution, in the cities, this may have been true. Not in the years previously, and never in the villages.

      Thus most kids didn't stay in school past bar mitzvah, if that.

      School is not the only way to learn. You are measuring them with your own yardstick.

      It is a tremendous chiddush that we have the wealth as a society for most kids to not work, and go to high school and college. Or in our case, "mesivta" and "bais medrash". Kal vchomer married men in kollel.

      The issue here is not registered Yeshivos. In times of old, a person who wanted to dedicate his life to learning, could marry a rich girl, or he could find a wife willing to take over his job, live poor and eke out a living from manual labor. Nobody is saying it was easy, but the culture was much more religious than nowadays. There was always a subset of people willing to sacrifice for a higher spiritual life.

      This is a product of the incredible wealth of our modern society, that can afford to have a large portion of the population out of the labor force.

      Should that wealth be wasted on trips to Dubai? Should that wealth be frittered on research into paleontology of the ancient Canaanites, instead of helping people understand better מה חובתם בעולמם? if indeed the world has changed, why should those advances be used only for nonsense? If we use the internet to further Torah learning, we should also use our uniquely wealthy circumstances to increase Torah learning in the world. Especially as so many of our brethren have dumped the entire Torah out of their radar.

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    16. ZV, I don't know why you think there wasn't enough work in the shtetl. The opposite is in fact the case. And in fact, child labor was almost universal in the pre-industrial agricultural societies.

      If you want a snapshot of the grinding conditions of previous era's agricultural societies, we have contemporary examples. The many countries of Sub-Saharan Africa, where 60%-90% of people are employed in agriculture, have the highest rates of child labor in the world! And not just the children of course, but the adults have some of the longest working hours in the world. Or if you want to look at actual pre-industrial societies of previous eras, we have evidence of that as well, see here https://ourworldindata.org/working-hours - working hours have declined as the share of people working in agriculture has fell. The industrial revolution was actually the cause of the decline in child labor and working hours!

      I agree that our wealth should ideally be used for learning Torah. If we can spend billions of dollars on movies, video games, sports, journalism, luxurious cars, vacations, Biblical museums, and lawyers (who are the most useless of all), and all the economic sectors that support these endeavors, surely we can also support Torah scholarship. But there is a limit to everything, and I see no reason why every single person should be expected to become a Torah scholar/teacher and do nothing else.

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    17. Nachuml:
      Litvish yeshivot had a dozen of two talmidim. Telz and maybe the Mir had 30-40, maybe 50. Hungarian yeshivot had 200-400, and they were dedicated learners, not like the litvish that had hedonists, maskillim (irreligious, kofrim, and completely observant, maskullim does not necessarily mean kofrim), Bolsheviks, yiddishists, Tziyonim (not necessarily objectionable, depending on the yeshiva and the RY), chassidim, lapsed chassidim, others.
      There might have been an official zman semester, but students came and went regularly.

      ZD: The dedicated talmidim often ended up marrying fellow talmidim's sisters. After all, a rich girl probably didn't want to marry a batlan, though there were cases.
      A sister of a fellow talmid knew what she was getting into, and that was the society.
      Today. We have BY schools to indoctrinate women into the Kollel or learner's lifestyle. Of course, they also teach Dubai.

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    18. MMHY - you are dealing with a short period of history, when the Joint sent money to Yeshivos and demanded a formal reckoning of enrolees etc..
      Historically, Yeshivos were more ad hoc, and you will not find a list of talmidim of Yeshivos in the early 1800s, as an example, anywhere. And that is definitely true for the early 1600s.

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    19. Mimedinat - Mir had 30-40 bochurim?! I don't know what you are smoking, but I want some of it. The Mir had between 300 and 400 talmidim in its heyday. And the maskilim had long left the Yeshivos by then. You are confusing different time periods.
      Jason from Jersey

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    20. The joint only sent money 💰 during WWI. The litvish didn't like that, so they had Agudat haRabbonim start a fundraising drive called Hebrew Relief Society known as Ezrat Torah. Similar with Kobe and Shanghai, when Agudat haRabbonim and others formed Vaad Hatzalah (and Lubavitch did their own things, as always)
      The tzar also demanded student rolls, but that was because they limited the number of students (personal conversation with Dr Gil Perl)
      Yeshivot were ad hoc, like I mentioned. Students came and left, irrespective of any "zman", and there were many what today would be undesirables. Though one couldn't just show up and attend a yeshiva, there was a farher and michtav haMlatzah from one's town rav. And it was easier to get in when there was available space, and impossible when things were crowded.
      As for Mir having 300, see the picture of talmidim, Rav Berel Wein.
      It wasn't like today, where if you didn't learn at the Mir or one of the Brisk yeshivot, and from there to BMG, and practically didn't deserve to get married.

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    21. We don't have any comprehensive records of Yeshivos in the pre-WWI era, we have the records of some of them, the more famous ones. Those that were either locally supported or more ad-hoc, had no records. So the numbers are completely wrong.

      The only Yeshiva that was known to have maskilim was Volozhin. After the first world war, a maskil had to be really stupid to choose a yeshiva over the other options that were available. Zionists went to their programs, and bundists had their own. Read Chaim Shoskes for more information

      Rabbi Wein's history is usually suspect in my eyes, but I don't know what you are quoting. There is a picture in the pre-photoshop days of WWII Shanghai of the entire Yeshiva in the Beis Hamedrash, and there are many more than 30-40
      Mrs Shain describes the Yeshiva when her husband was there, no 30-40 bochurim.

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  4. R' Reisman recently mentioned the relative decrease in contributions and increase in demand at Torah Vdaas. On the other hand “'It's tough to make predictions, especially about the future'”
    KT

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  5. Israel has lagged most of the countries of the EU in providing economic aid to the unemployed and otherwise disadvantaged during the pandemic. Probably following the US lead of trying to be as cruel as possible.

    If the rabbinic leadership were better educated in secular subjects, as you've quoted R' Melamed and R' Hutner among others as advocating, they might come to understand things like MMT and help push that as at least a temporary solution. Israel is a rich enough economy that there is really no excuse for the suffering currently happening.

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    1. "Trying to be cruel"? Where do you get that?

      Government is generally incompetent. I suppose that to people who don't think that way, government failure must ipso facto be deliberate. It must create an interesting cognitive dissonance, if it's even noticed.

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    2. Nachuml: to prove your statement, there was an insurance company or two that offered private unemployment insurance. NYS put a stop to that. Can't have competition without bureaucracy, and without the state having a cut of the action and control.

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  6. This post ignores the largest section of chareidim by far - the chassidim. They don't believe in endless kollel for everybody and a have a healthy work ethic.

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    1. Not in Israel they don't, where they can't work if they want to avoid military service.

      And even in America the kollel ideal has taken over a lot of chassidus.

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    2. Nachum,

      They wait until the army no longer wants them, which takes only a few years. Or they just work anyway. Facts on the ground is that chassidim do not stay in kollel unless they are gifted.

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    3. healthy work ethic:
      In US, that means good stamps, section 8, and Medicaid, etc.
      I understand similar in Israel.

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  7. RNS, you sound like Greta Thunberg. I have seen no hard data that show collapse is imminent. You probably could have made the same claim in 2008 financial crisis.

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  8. What a strange post. Right now, why are Chareidim worse off than the rest of the 20% unemployed? Are they all starving to death? And when the economy gets better and unemployment goes down, why would Chareidim be worse off than they are now? One thing I agree is that Charedim will gradually integrate into the workforce like in the US. One of the biggest barriers is the antiquated conscription system, that prevents many who would otherwise want to be employed. Hopefully, that will be dispensed with in the near future.

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    1. in israel, at least, those out of work are in big trouble as they are more of less the people without high-tech training. israel is heading for a K-shaped recovery Those in high tech with modern skills (on the upwards bit of the k) will survive, those without relevant skills (on the downward bit of the k) will need to retrain to re-enter the workforce.
      The difference between them and the chareidim is that you don't have to convince them that they need to work. It's just a given.

      And there is still no reason to exempt chareidim from army service. their children's blood is no less valuable that the children of non-chareidim

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    2. Personally, I think non-chareidim should also be exempt from army service. Israel should have professional military. But chareidim have a special reason to oppose conscription, in that it is a fast-track to secular assimilation (whether you care about this or not may depend if you are chareidi or not.)

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    3. Again, if your goal is to get Chareidim to join the workforce, why would you put the enormous barrier in front of them of military service? Wind down the conscription and wind down the welfare payments as well, and let them join the normal economy! Unless of course, you care more about getting Chareidim to be non-chareidi than getting them to join the workforce...

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    4. Israel cannot - not should not, but can not - go to the professional military model. It would be inviting the end of Israel. It is a military fact that Israel needs the mass of reservists to safeguard against attack from forces with superior numbers.
      If you want to see a similar military model, look to Finland, and you will notice that allowing for cultural differences, it is broadly similar to the Israeli approach, as it is in response to similar pressures.

      That military service is a barrier to the chareidim is the fault of the chareidim. They have citizenship in a land that was founded for that citizenship to be their birthright, and not a gift settled on them by the nation they lived among, and from what I see they demand and demand, and give nothing back but mealy-mouthed fake piety and then get upset when it comes back to bite them...

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    5. I don't see why the reserve model, if necessary, can't also be volunteer. If you want lawyers, accountants, programmers to drop what they're doing and join whenever there is a war, pay them adequately. Pay them adequately for the 3 years "training" that is currently conscription, and have them sign a contract that they will be in reserves for whenever necessary (for adequate pay of course). Why the need for slave labor?

      Whoever's fault it is, one thing is certain: Chareidim will never compromise on military service. Meanwhile, you decided the only solution is to punish them by excluding them from the economy. And then you complain bitterly about the economic effects. So what is a bigger problem? A growing part of the population not participating in the army reserves, or a growing part of the population not participating in the economy at all? Non-chareidim have more to lose from the current arrangement than chareidim themselves. They should act pragmatically.

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    6. Happy:
      Charedim don't have the people and other skills to join the general workforce, without army service. Their leadership opposes a modified form of people and other skills education, so that's not an alternative.
      By the way, MK Naftali Bennet among others advocates a professional non draft military, but it's too controversial.
      2. Tell charedim to move to Finland

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    7. Army service is not necessary to gain people or other skills. Needless to say Chareidim in the US join the general workforce without army service. In the US, the yeshivish hareidim generally stay in kollel for several years and join the workforce between the ages of 27-30. Chassidim get married earlier, spend much less time in kollel, and join the workforce much earlier.

      As for education, many yeshivish hareidim do eventually get an accelerated education when they leave kollel. Some start the process when they are sill in kollel. Many get into law schools with their yeshiva degree. Many become CPAs. Many take special programs that allow them to work in IT. Many work in fields that don't require college education, such as sales or property management, or starting a business. Chassidim generally only work in such fields that don't require college.

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  9. The second factor mitigates the first. If you can’t find a job, then you might as well work. Also, COVID will end and the economy will com back. Also the Charedim may still be key to coalition building whoever “wins”. I’m afraid this may be wishful thinking.

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  10. I agree with some of the writers here, that is, there is no death knell to be heard for the Torah only lifestyle. The Charedi community possesses a unique ability to do without and will draw on that to survive. Likewise, DassTorah, certainly has taken a hit with Covid, but infallibility is not a rational principle, and it’s lure will continue to tug at the heart and imagination. None-the-less, I am grateful to Rabbi Slifkin for keeping his finger on the pulse of Charedi life, and sharing it with the rest of us that are interested in the doings of Klal Yisrael.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. In order to keep your finger on the pulse of charedi life you need to be in it. Which RNS is not. He is an external polemicist, not an internal critic. Which explains why so much of his criticism is short of the mark.
      Although some is good and valid, which is why I bother reading it.

      Delete
  11. There is nothing so trite in the Jewish world as a "warning" that the Charedi way of life is doomed. Right next to it are predictions of Bibi's demise, although with his age and his badly mishandled overreaction to Covid, such predictions are probably finally closer to finally being right.

    ReplyDelete
  12. There is plenty of money amongst Charedim, way more than they need. The Biblical Museum may not have been the priority of donors during a pandemic, but those who donate to Kollelim appreciate the Kollel ideal much more.
    I predict that the world will totally forget a pandemic ever happened, everything will be back to normal as before. Perhaps some institutions will close down, but not in any significant numbers.
    Wishful thinking is not fact.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This Charedi, for one, doesn't have more money than I need....

      Delete
  13. The Gateshead Kolel was founded by Rav E. Dessler in 1942. I don't know if it was originally intended as an institution for long term learning, but that is certainly what it has become. As for the viability of Kollelim in the future, I think the Kolel students of the 1950s and 60s were far less well off financially, and less appreciated or understood by the wider community, and yet they survived. Howevwer bad the situation is today, I think there is still relative affluence in the community, and Kollelim will survive, though perhaps become less prevalent.

    ReplyDelete
  14. "And with Bibi's days being numbered, the charedim will lose a lot of political power, which is what they need to extract money from the rest of the country."

    Other way around, Bibi gets his political power from the charedim.
    And recently Ofer Shelah said the left needs to renew its relationship with the charedim.
    So their political power is not going anywhere anytime soon.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, but it's not like the charedim don't get a lot more than they give, even if Bibi (or others) don't realize it.

      Charedim make alliances for one reason only, what it will get them.

      Delete
    2. as was and is every alliance in history...

      Delete
    3. Look no further than the previous election. After results suggested the left had more seats, a Bibi majority was impossible, and a Blue and White majority was in play, Meretz immediately congratulated themselves and trumpeted on twitter their vision for a Center-Left - Arab - Haredi majority. Meretz!!!!
      Rabbi Slifkin is delusional in thinking the left won't use haredi politics for its own power the same way Bibi has and the same way both sides of the spectrum have in Israeli history.

      Delete
    4. Good, so charedim should be honest about it.

      Delete
    5. An Arab-Charedi-Left coalition actually makes sense - the Charedim and the Arabs would both benefit from a more left-wing economic policy (at least temporarily).

      Delete
  15. RNS
    If your prediction becomes true, do you then have another group lined up to use as a punching bag? or are you going to close this website? Maybe time has come to criticise your own MO community, or is this never going to happen? It is easy to find fault at others but in order to make the world a better place it would be beneficial if people reflect on their own faults.

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  16. Now you can contribute to a new Kollel called "Shas Yiden".
    I you think it's important for society at large to know how many times the name "Rava" or "Abaye" (or Rav "Yirmiya" for that matter) appear on any Daf of the Talmud you are welcome to contribute.
    If the Kollel members wear their masks, they will be funded to do this meaningful endeavour till their ripe old age.

    ReplyDelete
  17. No, this is not the end of kollel. We're not seeing the death of kollel anytime soon. Kollel lasted over a hundred years. It's not going anymore.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The Roman Empire lasted over a five hundred years, and then poof. The Byzantine Empire lasted well over a thousand years, and then poof. The Holy Roman Empire also lasted about a thousand years, and then poof. Even the Crusader Kingdom lasted longer- five times longer- than the current kollel system and...poof. The Japanese emperor was considered a literal god for *sixteen hundred years*, and then poof. Closer to home, the first Beit HaMikdash stood for almost four hundred years and then poof. The second stood for almost six hundred and then poof.

      There's a story told (I have no idea how true it is) about how the Austrian emperor told Herzl that he had a fine idea, but for various reasons a Jewish State couldn't come into existence until the German, Russian, British, and Ottoman empires ceased to exist, and that was just ridiculous. Guess what happened within a couple of decades.

      Delete
  18. The latest Olam Katan has a question from an avrech to R' Aviner that he wants to work but doesn't want to lose his army exemption. Can he sign a work form under another name? R' Aviner is diplomatic in his answer, but if the question is real (which is not guaranteed), it's telling.

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  19. Also, a staggering 20% of yeshiva population in Israel simply haven't come back to yeshiva, and are basically hanging around. For many charedim, the yeshiva system in Israel seems to function more as a mode of social control/babysitting service, which last I checked, is worse than a "rabbi factory".

    ReplyDelete
  20. "And with Bibi's days being numbered, the charedim will lose a lot of political power, which is what they need to extract money from the rest of the country."

    It's odd that you keep posing this straw man argument. Haredi kollelim have received handouts from leftwing and rightwing governments. Haredi politicians have sat in leftwing coalitions and rightwing coalitions.

    You keep promoting the left as the death knell of an unsustainable haredi handout system, but it's a total myth and delusion. Rather than learn by their "betrayal" of your hopes, why not look at history, which already tells us the outcome ahead of time and then not bother promoting sick leftwing antizionist interests?

    ReplyDelete
  21. In the late 1940s, R' Yoshe Ber Soloveichik made a similar prediction, this was about Chareidi jewry in general, that it would pretty soon become a museum relic. This is presumably why he switched from Agudah to Mizrachi and invested heavily in Modern Orthodox as the only way for a continuation of Orthodoxy.
    His mistake was a result of a deep misunderstanding of the Chareidi stubbornness that they can get it right even in America and Israel.
    By the time of his passing in 1993 he realized his mistake, Chareidim were growing by leaps and bounds, both in numbers and in intensity, while MO was stagnant if not shrinking.
    You too may actually see the final demise of the MO and the perpetuation of Orthodoxy through the Chareidim.
    If you want to go with predictions, how about we predict the diminishing of membership at MO shuls, those that have gotten very comfortable davening at home for a year already might not feel like coming back to shul. Or the MO education system suffering from students who have been learning on zoom without any classroom setting or structure.
    Those in glass houses shouldn't throw stones

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. R' Soloveitchik switched from Agudah to Mizrachi because he saw how right Zionism was and how badly "da'as torah" had messed up in the Holocaust. This is on the record. And his opposition remained to the end of his life. (He was, by the way, pretty much out of it for many years before he died.)

      But keeping making up fantasies if it makes you feel better.

      Delete
    2. That's my understanding also as to why he switched. He was Joseph. His rabbinic colleagues were his brothers, and they were wrong then, and wrong again now.

      Delete
  22. "This is presumably why he switched from Agudah to Mizrachi and invested heavily in Modern Orthodox as the only way for a continuation of Orthodoxy."

    Sure, I mean he's laid out his mo ideology in multiple writings/speeches, but ya I guess if you skip those what you say makes sense.

    "Or the MO education system suffering from students who have been learning on zoom without any classroom setting or structure."

    What's your point? That following the guidelines set out by experts is bad?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am not JB, but you are missing the point. It is not bad to follow the guidelines, but it will bring to the forefront your weaknesses.
      I am not MO and I don't know how things are in their world, but if it is true that attendance in Shuls is significantly down since the outbreak, that would need studying. Why would it be like that? Why is that not true in those Charedi areas who did follow the law at the time? Why did they bounce back seamlessly, when the MO did not?

      Delete
    2. Yeshivishe kids aren't using zoom? News to me.

      Delete
    3. I am familiar with his ideology, I was only engaging in some psychoanalysis; his ideology that he carefully laid out was only a result of not seeing a continuation of Orthodoxy though Chareidism.
      That he believed that Chareidi will die out is also clearly documented.
      By the 70s and 80s it was quite apparent that this was very mistaken

      Delete
    4. Sure, and R' Hirsch's ideas were all a hora'at sha'ah as well.

      Well into the end of his career, R' Soloveitchik complained that his students who were the greatest learners were happily ignorant of general culture. You don't say things like that if you wouldn't want them to, you know, study general culture.

      Delete
    5. @zichron devorim: I haven't been to the US in a while, but here in Israel at least I don't know anyone that used to go daven with a minyan but stopped because of corona (not for health reasons). MO in general contains a wide spectrum of observance.

      @JB: Your "psychoanalysis" is groundless. I don't know if the Rav thought charedim would die out, if so he was very much mistaken, but to make the jump that his whole ideology was crafted based on this presumption would require some sort of evidence.

      Delete
    6. On the original topic in this subthread: yes, MO shul attendance is down now BECAUSE THEY ARE BEING CAREFUL TO NOT GET SICK.

      Wait until everyone is satisfied that the outbreak is over and then compare shul filling numbers. Looking at shul attendance now is silly. One might even say that those shuls that ARE running at more full attendance are behaving in a sakana fashion...

      Delete
    7. Nachum,
      Here's the quote you ordered:
      "I will tell you frankly, the American ben torah has achieved great heights on an intellectual level. However, experientially he is simply immature. When it comes to Jewish religious experience, people of thirty or even forty years of age are immature. They act like children and experience religion like children. As a result, Jewish youth is inclined and very disposed to accept extremist views... The youth is extremely pious, but also very inconsiderate. Sometimes they drive matters to absurdity. Why? Because they have no experience. Their experience is very childish, simply infantile. When it comes to experiencing the emotional component of religion, boys who are really learned simply act like children. This is why they accept all types of fanaticism and superstition. Sometimes, they are even ready to do things which border on the immoral... I have never seen such obscurantism as I see among some of my students today. After all, I come from the ghetto. Yet I have never seen such naive and uncritical commitment to people and to ideas as I see in America. This is the main problem we have today."

      Delete
    8. So he misjudged the future. Join the rest of the rabbis who did the same thing by poopooing Hitler's threat, or by not seeing the ultimate triumph of political secular Zionism.

      Delete
    9. Rabbi Soloveitchik is misunderstanding the culture. It is not the American Ben Torah that is immature, it is the American period. Someone who comes from Europe cannot fathom the naivete of the average American. They are extremely uncritical, their instincts are completely numbed. People claim to be critical, but that does not come naturally to them. Like those who claim to disbelieve the MSM, yet at the same time believe another media source.
      America is the home of the gullible fools, that is the culture and mindset. Although there are those who rise above it, and some who are worse than others, at its core American culture is monochromatic and intellectually immature.

      Delete
    10. Actually, he said it about Israeli yeshivs bachurim too.

      Delete
  23. You’re confusing kollel in America from Rav Aharon and kollel in EY which was sort of forced into being for life because of Ben Gurion

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    Replies
    1. Ben Gurion had little to nothing to do with it. It was the massive funding when Likud first took power that created it.

      Delete
    2. The full deferment from army if you were learning goes way way before likud took power. Likud may have helped with funding but the result of life term yeshiva was started inadvertently by the secular Zionists when they set up the system thinking (like you) that it won’t last.

      Delete
    3. That is not true - before the Likud the number of army exemptions was limited.

      Delete
    4. It was not limited there were just many less chareidim and therefore many less people learning. In the early 50s there were only around 500 which was an increase of around 100 from when it started. The 60s had a steady growth but mirroring the charedi population it was still a modest growth and combined with even more charedi growth and the mess ups of Labor which enabled likud to get into power (and basically stay in power). As a side point, not that this makes it ok, although there is a huge number of full time yeshiva students now it is still way below the amount that people think. Ask a few random people how many full time Israeli yeshiva students and kollel people there are and unless they actually know the # they all assume it’s significantly higher than it is.

      Delete
    5. Furthermore whatever the reason and history was the facts on the ground are that if you make army service contingent on gowing to work then the numbers will only slightly decrease. If you allow them to go to work at some point in time more will join the work force like in the USA

      Delete
  24. As someone who is tangentially connected with efforts in Israel to get chareidim into the workforce, I think it's fair to say that the amount of grass-roots effort from within the chareidi community is growing exponentially. That society as a whole, I think, at least inwardly, is more and more recognizing that there is a need to work. See the efforts of menachem bombach, achim, kivun, mesila, mercaz hachareidi lehachshara, and many many others

    A change is a-happening, but it's not yet out of the closet.

    ReplyDelete
  25. 'Kollel, 1943-2020'

    Klal Yisroel has endured and survived much more dire 'predictions'.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're conflating "klal Yisrael" with "kollel." You do know most Jews don't learn in kollel, right?

      Delete
  26. "I will tell you frankly, the American ben torah has achieved great heights on an intellectual level. However, experientially he is simply immature."
    And now, a dissenting voice:

    "Rabbi Soloveitchik is misunderstanding the culture. It is not the American Ben Torah that is immature, it is the American[,] period."
    Reread what Rabbi Soloveitchik actually said, and dont put your words in his mouth.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I didn't put my words into his mouth, I explained why he is wrong. The average American is emotionally and spiritually and mentally (as well as experientially) immature, even at the age of 80. I don't know why it is so, maybe it is the comfortable life of a rich relatively safe society that makes people naive and gullible, children for life.

      Delete
    2. I wonder why MO Jews don't have a similar compulsion to turn charedi gedolim MO.

      Delete
  27. Naive and gullible.
    Hmm.
    You don't get out much. The typical American I've run into in the midwest is a trusting, honest person. People like that feel others are trustworthy and honest, too, because they are.
    Sad that in the frum community such honest, trusting people are painted as naive and gullible. The problem actually lies with us frum financial swindlers, tax cheats, Ponzi schemers, and government money scammers. We think we're the smart ones, until we land in jail. We're just arrogant and pathetic and, deep down, we all know it.

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    Replies
    1. This very idea, that because I am trustworthy everyone else is too, is part of the closed mindedness of Americans. Why is your basic belief that everyone is like you? Why wouldn't you think that others are different to you?

      That is a terrible American צמצום, and the reason why democracy exporting doesn't work, as well as many other American follies.

      Delete

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