Volume 22 Number 95
                       Produced: Thu Jan 25 20:49:59 1996

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Kollel (location dependent?)
         [Schwartz Adam]
Kollel and charity
         [Michael Grynberg]
Support of Yeshivot
         [Meir Shinnar]
When to Ask
         [Eliyahu Shiffman]


From: Schwartz Adam <adams@...>
Date: Wed, 24 Jan 1996 11:36:09 +0200
Subject: Kollel (location dependent?)

Thanks to Elozor Preil for quoting R. Moshe's tshuvah on kollels.

I was curious if any modern posek makes a distinction between kollel in
Israel and in hutz laaretz.  I see a tremendous difference between the
two and wonder if others do as well.



From: Michael Grynberg <spike@...>
Date: Wed, 24 Jan 1996 09:32:45 +0200 (IST)
Subject: Kollel and charity

I was wondering about the psak that is given by Rav Moshe Feinstein tz"l
as related in this previous post.

> From: <EMPreil@...> (Elozor Preil)
> Not any more.Here is a translation of a teshuva (responsum) of Rav
> Moshe Feinstein zt"l written in 1964 (Yoreh Deah, vol. 2, ch. 116): "In
> the matter of Torah scholars who wish to engage in and grow in their
> knowledge of Torah and benefit financially through receipt of a Kollel
> stipend... are they acting correctly, or perhaps they should be
> concerned and it should be considered a midas chasidus (meritorious act
> beyond the legal requirement) not to take the stipend ...THEY ARE
> DEFINITELY ACTING PROPERLY (by taking the stipend)... and even if the
> halacha is like the Rambam, the scholars of many generations all agree
> to allow the taking of money because...otherwise Torah would be
> forgotten from the Jewish people....One should not refrain from
> accepting such funds even as a midas chasidus....AND I SAY that those
> who act righteously based upon the Rambam and stop their full-time
> learning to get a job are following the counsel of the Yetzer Hara (evil
> inclination)."I urge all who are capable of looking in the Igros Moshe
> personally to see how strongly Rav Moshe expresses his thoughts on this
> issue.Let's put a stop to kollel-bashing.

I was taught that reason behind the sin of the meraglim was that they
wished to remain in the desert where all their needs were taken care of
as opposed to entering Israel where they would be forced to work, as
this would diminish the time they had for limud torah (torah study).

Kollel to me is a similar situation. Where those in kollel do not wish
to be troubled with occuaptions that are not torah dependant. Is it
better to live off of charity than to make the attempt to support
onesself by having a job?

When I pay taxes, some of that money gets filtered to yeshiva students,
so in effect I am giving tzedaka (charity), against my will, to support
someone learning. Is this proper? And according to Rav Moshe should this
money be taken if it is given against ones will?  (Isn't that part of
the issur against gambling, that the person that loses does not really
relinquish ownership of the monies lost?)

I understand that yissacher and zevulun had an arrangement, wherby one
learns and one works, but i believe that was voluntary and one side was
not forced into it.

I do believe that there must be people who learn in Kollel, and maintain
and advance our culture and understanding of torah, but I do not believe
this should be a widespread lifestyle, as it is not self sufficient, but
drains the community of its' resources. (Imagine everyone learning in
kollel; who would till the fields? who would collect taxes? who would
distribute the stipends? WHy can't women also learn full time, in which
case who would take care of the kids of all the men in Kollel? Who would
cook dinner?)

These are just some thoughts I had on the matter, and I would be
interested in reading any and all responses, publicly or prvately.

Mike Grynberg


From: <meir_shinnar@...> (Meir Shinnar)
Date: Thu, 25 Jan 96 10:08:33 EST
Subject: Support of Yeshivot

Zvi Weiss, responding to Shlomo Pick, had written,
>that the Rambam refers to the one who STUDIES... The Rambam DOES
>NOT discuss here one who may wish to SUPPORT such Torah Study.

The Rambam, in his commentary on Pirke Avot 4:7(my translation from 
the Kappach translation into Hebrew)

and they misled (hishgu) the people with a complete error (hata'a
muchletet) that it is an obligation and that one needs to help scholars
and students and people who study Torah and whose Torah is their life.
And all of this is an error that has no foundation in the Torah and
nothing to rely on at all.

We may disagree with the Rambam, but the Rambam clearly does not think
that it is in any way a mitzvah to support Torah study.  Indeed, given
the level of his opposition to those who think that they should learn
and be supported by the public, he would probably view such support as
transgressing lifnei iver (putting a stumbling block in front of the

 >On the contrary, from the Talmudic discussions re Yissachar/Zevulon and
>Shimon/Azarya relationships, it appears that it WAS a highly proper
>approach to support those who study Torah.

The Rambam never (AFAIK) cites the midrash on Yissachar/Zevulun, nor
does it appear in many other rishonim.  It would seem that he either had
a different understanding of the midrash (see below), or held it to be a
daat yachid(individual opinion).

>the Netziv's discussion re Aser/T'aser where he cites Talmudic statements that
>specifically refer to the "custom" of the "merchant" supporting the one
>who studies Torah.  Further discussion is also in the Netziv when he
>discusses the "Teruma" that was taken off and given to the Kohen and
>Leviim after the War with Midian (end of Bamidbar).  All of these
>sources would appear to inidcate that it is indeed praiseworthy to
> support those who "take off" to study Torah.

Talmidei chachamim are clearly entitled to several financial
prerogatives.  They are entitled to be exempt from all communal taxes,
even if they are wealthy.  Furthermore, they have certain rights of
priority in commercial transactians.  Lastly, it is considered a
mitzvah, including the Rambam, that the merchant trades on behalf of the
Talmid chacham.  That is, the scholar provides the capital, but the
merchant actually does the trading without charge.  I suspect that this
is the Rambam's understanding of Yissachar and Zevulun.  There is no
clear support for direct financial subsidies.

[Next], I will discuss the position of chachmei Ashkenaz,
and the evolution of kollelim.

in a previous article, Zvi Weiss, responding to Shlomo Pick, had written:
>  While the Rambam certainly emphasized the importance of not making a
>"living" by Torah study, I would like to remind all that (a) this view
>is somewhat countered by the approach of Chachmei Ashkenaz

Even in Chachmei Ashkenaz, until recently, the importance of not making
a living by Torah study was recognized, although it was tempered by the
social necessity of having rabbis.  Thus, in Ashkenaz, arose the custom
of inviting the Rabbi to all seudot mitzvah, giving him presents as part
of the seudat mitzvah, and other gifts which were not direct subsidies.
Even this limited level of support was opposed by Hasidei Ashkenaz.
Later, they started giving salaries, but it was specifically sechar
batalah - recompense for being available to the town at all times, and
therefore being unable to do other work.  It was not payment for sitting
and learning.

Thus: in the Terumat HaDeshen, Pesakim and Ketavim siman 128 (the
responsa is about a rabbi starting up in another rabbi's community-
whether there is an issue of massig gevul- infringement of domain) and
if because of the issue of endangering the livelihood (pikuah parnasa)
that comes to the pocket of the leaders from divorces, halitza, oaths of
women, the fee for betrothals and weddings and similar stratagems
(tetzadki), on the receipt of such a reward we are embarassed and with
difficulty find a heter for most, so how can we hold it to consider it a

 From the appointment of the Shela Hakadosh to the rabbinate of Frankfurt:

We give to the leader of the court 200 golden pieces (twice a
year)... for the sake of the sechar battala written in the charter of
the rabbanut that occurs daily (i.e. - he has to be continuously
available).  and for himself he accepted that he would would not take
any money for sechar battala even one peruta for sechar battala for a
psak din (judgement)

Thus,even in Ashkenaz,the notion of paying for the rabbinate became
engrained as a social necessity, but not as one that was desired a
priori. Many would have agreed with the formulation of the Kesef Mishne
on the Rambam. After several attempts at refuting him, he concludes that
perhaps halacha is according to the Rambam, but because of the need to
perpetuate of Torah,there is a an "et laasot psak" (a special decree
because of the needs of the times) that allows such payment.

While there are responsa that take a more positive, a priori position
towards the payment of scholars, the more negative one continues to be
quite dominant.  Thus, both the Hafetz Hayim and the Hazon Ish, who
clearly supported raising money for yeshivot, refused to receive a
stipend for themselves, but tried to subsist from other means.

In the last 200 years, there has been a further marked shift. Most of
the early discussions in the Rambam and the Rishonim are about whether
it is permissible to support leaders.  It was felt inappropriate for
Frankfurt to directly support the Shelah Hakadosh for learning.  To a
large extent, very few in the Orthodox community doubt that payment for
communal functionaries - day school teachers, shul rabbis, leaders of
batei din, is appropriate.  However, the parameters of the debate have
drastically changed.

Until recently, yeshivot only paid for students until they got married
(at an early age). (as the kesef mishne says, if there are no kids,
there will be no rams). One hundred and fifty years ago, when R. Israel
Salanter started the Kovno Kollel, he instituted the practice of paying
for married students to learn.  He defended this innovation because he
said that he was training leaders.

Thirty years ago, the total number of yeshiva students small, and the
number of kollel students was even smaller.  Many then feared for the
survival of Torah.  All the support for yeshivot was needed.  Many of
the responsa cited justifying the support of the yeshivot, such as Rav
Feinstein's z"l, are from this time.

Today, we have a situation where the norm for the haredi community is to
sit and learn in kollel, in Israel to age 30.  This is clearly not just
for the sake of providing communal leaders, but for the personal
improvement of the talmidim.  I do not know of much precedent in halakha
for requiring such massive support, nor of allowing most of the
recipients to accept such support.  Do we really feel that the survival
of Torah is dependent on the entire community sitting in kollel?

One last point.  One of the Rambam's main objections to the payment of
scholars was that it reduced the honor of Torah.  If Torah is just
another profession (my son the doctor or my son the Rabbi), then it will
be judged by the criteria of other professions (money, social status,
etc).  Furthermore, people will despise scholars if they view them as
hired hands, who do their work for money.

In the non haredi, and especially the hiloni community, the Rambam's
prediction has come true.  In Israel, most of the hiloni community views
the haredi as people whose main concern is getting money for the
yeshivot.  We may not be concerned about the perception of the non
haredim, but the Rambam clearly was concerned about the opinion of the
am haaretz.

Indeed, things have gotten even worse than the Rambam could have
imagined. Part of the consequence of becoming economically dependent is
that one's integrity can be compromised.  We have seen the Pell grant
scandal in America,and the Aryeh Deri scandal in Israel.  How many other
institutions and individuals have stolen to support Torah?  Does a
community that has become so dependent on outside support best exemplify
the notion a torat haim (living torah)?

We are now in a generation that, while having no recognized gdolim, has
the largest number in history of people who have learned intensively.
We also have the largest number of Jews who completely despise the Torah
community.  The Rambam would say that support of kollelim is a unifying
factor behind all three phenomena.

Meir Shinnar


From: Eliyahu Shiffman <RLSHIFF@...>
Date: Wed, 24 Jan 1996 08:30:51 +200
Subject: When to Ask

    A number of posters have recently stressed the importance of "asking
one's local rabbi" or "asking a competent posek."  It was mentioned, for
instance, in the context of whether one can return more paper than one
borrowed, and whether one can carry extra tampons on Shabbat where there
isn't an eruv (area within which carrying is permitted).  I occasionally
get the (unsolicited) advice: "You need to ask a rav about that."
    My question is, when is one required to ask? I have always assumed
that one asks: 1) when one doesn't know or doesn't feel fully confident
about one's knowledge about the proper course of action in a given
situation, and doesn't feel competent to research the issue oneself, or
2) when one will lose or gain depending on the answer (e.g. do I, or do
I not, owe him money?), and so may be unable to be objective about one's
halachic obligations.  I assume that we don't ask about every halachic
issue that comes up, or we would be doing nothing but asking.

Eliyahu Shiffman (<rlshiff@...>)
Beit Shemesh, Israel   


End of Volume 22 Issue 95