Volume 23 Number 10
                       Produced: Thu Feb  1 23:49:27 1996

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Kollel (3)
         [Zvi Weiss, Eli Turkel, Avraham Teitz]
Kollel - My Torah web page
         [Steve Gindi]
         [Joseph P. Wetstein]
Yeshivos on the Spiritual Front Line
         [Betzalel Posy]


From: Zvi Weiss <weissz@...>
Date: Wed, 31 Jan 1996 18:04:29 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Re: Kollel

I am grateful to Meir Shinnar and Esther Posen for their comments about
the Kollel system.  I would like to point out that I believe that there
is merit in what BOTH have posted.  However, there are also questions.

1. Meir posted a well-documented descrition of the reluctance that even 
Chasidei Ashkenaz had when faced with the "matter" of "pay" for learning 
Torah.  He also points out that part of the reason for the reluctance may 
be that there is a tremendous incorease in "quantity" without a similar 
increase in overall "quality" (if I understood his post correctly).  He 
also explains the Yissachar/Zevulon system as little more than the Talmid 
Chacham putting up capital while the "other party" does the "work" such 
that the Talmid Chacham is being supported by his own money ...

2. Esther Posen notes that the Kollel system has a particular value in 
that it leads to a home where there is a total "permeation" of Torah 
values. and that (to her knowledge) it appears to be the best system to 
achieve this.

I would raise the following questions:

a. The Talmud emphasizes both the need to start intensive learning early 
if we are to have Leaders ("if there are no goats, there will be no rams 
[later on]") as well as the relative UNLIKELIHOOD that a given person 
will be the next "Great Leader" (one out of a thousand according to the 
Talmud's calculation).  This leads to a couple of almost contradictory 
matters: -- on the one hand, it appears that there IS a need to encourage 
learning if we are to have future leaders.  On the other hand, who wants 
to be supporting the 999 who will "wash out"?

b. The notion that the kollel system is the "best" one for permeating the 
home with Torah seems to have the "Down side" of implying that others who 
are not so deviting their lives will not (or do not) have Torah-permeated 
homes.  Such an implicaiton can lead to the sort of Sin'at Chinam that we 
were decrying not long ago and, more fundamentally, it appears to be in 
conflict with the Perspective that the Torah was given to the B'nei 
Yisrael as members of an overall community and NOT as people who must 
stay cloistered away.  I seem to recall that a homiletical reason given 
for the sin of the Meraglim was that they did not want to enter Israel -- 
where they would have to "work" -- but preferred the Desert instead where 
they had a supply of Manna and could "somfortably" spend the entire day 
learning.  In addition, the description of Rav S.R. Hirsch of the Jewish 
Nation as just that -- a NATION composed of all groups and not simply a 
group of people cloistered in learning would seem to contradict Mrs. 
Posen's assertion. (**IMPORTANT NOTE** I am NOT asserting that this means 
people should not sit and learn -- I am only questioning whether it is 
indeed correct to assert that the *best* way to insure a household filled 
with Torah is via the "Kollel Track" wiht the possible implication that 
others are, therfore, NOT successful in filling their houses with Torah.)

I would also note that some time ago Rav Moshe ZT"L wrote an interesting 
Teshuva about the Yissachar/Zevulon relationship, specifically.  The 
thrust was that this is NOT a "regular" case of support since it is 
structured as a *partnership* -- such that BOTH partners share EQUALLY in 
the Torah learned by the Yissachar in return for sharing equally in the 
physical wealth of the Zevulon.... This does NOT seem to imply the 
regular support that we were talking about.

In point of that, I would suggest that we may want to rethink "Kollel" 
both in terms of those who intend to "devote their lives to learning" and 
for those who intend to learn before "going out into the world".  Also, I 
woul suggest that we consider whether a Rosh Kollel should tell a 
*diligent* student that that student will serve Klal Yisrael better by 
*leaving* the Kollel...


From: Eli Turkel <turkel@...>
Date: Thu, 1 Feb 1996 08:36:56 +0200
Subject: Kollel

    Elozor Preil writes

>> I agree with your approach that ideally Kollel fellows should actively
>> contribute through teaching to the Jewish community.  I would just like
>> to point out that in a meta-physical sense Kollel men ARE contributing
>> to the welfare of their communities and to Klal Yisrael simply by virtue
>> of the Torah they are learning.  This is the justification for Yeshiva
>> exemptions to the Israeli army - the concept that yeshiva bachurim are
>> indeed "serving" their nation through the Torah they are learning.  

    I have two problems with this approach. First in practice I suspect
that Kol Torah is rather unusual. Very few Israeli Kollelim view
themselves as learning on behalf on the general Israeli society.
    More fundamentally I don't find such a justification in the rishonim
or early achronim. I strongly urge people to look at the Kesef Mishna on
the famous Rambam. It is clear that even contemporaries of Rambam
disagreed with his approach. I would venture that even Rambam is the
best example against his own theory. The Rambam devoted himself
completely to learning and was financed by his brother. After his
brother's untimely death Rambam entered medicine. After working in the
Sultan's house it is clear he no longer had the time to contribute to
Halakhah what he had had previously accomplished. Nevertheless, Kesef
Mishna works hard to justify accepting a salary for being a rabbi or
judge. His ultimate justification is that in our days it is simply
impossible to get high caliber rabbis, teachers etc.  unless they devote
many full time years to learning and continue full time in their
positions. Hence, of necessity we must pay rabbis, teachers and hence
establish kollels. As Rav Karo puts it if we don't nurture our young
lambs we won't get grown sheep. Rav Soloveitchik said on several
occasions that he would prefer the old system of rebbes not being paid
for teaching but that it just wasn't practical.
     Thus, my reading of the early authorities is that one can justify
accepting money from the community (not family or friends) for learning
only if the community can reasonably expect a return from their
investment.  One's private learning is mainly for one-self.
     The old system in Europe even after kollelim were established was
that the vast majority of people learned for a while, then worked for a
living and learned early in the morning or late in the evening. Only a
select few were supported kollelim. Even in the yeshiva of Chatam Sofer
one was expected to move on to private life or the rabbinate after being
in the yeshiva 5 to 10 years. My personal preference is for a system
similar to that of advanced degrees in universities. In that system
there is a compettion to enter and tests to measure progress. Those that
enter are supported by various fellowships. There is usually some limit
as the time permitted to finish and continue receiving the
fellowship. In the US there also exists a "presidential fellowship" that
allows really top people to do research for several years with a nice
salary and no obligations. There also exist various research institutes
where the top people develop their lives to research.
    Thus "my" ideal system would have those interested in learning
continue until 18-22 years old depending on aptitude and attitude. They
would then go into some secular work and continue learning off
hours. The top people would then be supported in a kollel until the age
of about 30. At that time they would be expected to find a job within
the Jewish community.  It is to be expected that some of these will also
find secular jobs and become the elite "baal-bayit". Some truly
exceptional people could be supported for their lives in a kollel. The
Vilna gaon is one example of someone who was supported by the community
without receiving anything in return.
   The situation in Israel where almost everyone in the haredi (or at
least litvak Haredi) community learns in a kollel for the rest of his
life independent of his qualifications I find very difficult to accept.

Eli Turkel

From: Avraham Teitz <TEITZ.AVRAHAM@...>
Date: Thu, 01 Feb 1996 08:47:11 -0500
Subject: Kollel

In the ongoing thread on kollel, there has been one point that perhaps
should be raised.  Currently kollelim do not have stringent entrance
requirements, nor are the pupils required to produce results (such as
papers, lectures, etc.).  Kollel life will be treated with much greater
respect when there will be rigorous entrance requirements - and testing
and degrees to confirm achievment.  The current lack of accountability
by the students, as well as the "open admissions" policy now in force,
are what lead to great suspicion that a lot of "bench warming" is
occuring, rather than learning.  There are currently too many people in
(especially in Israel) that are in kollel not because they want to be,
but because of societal pressure within the haredi community to be

In sum, we need the Torah scholars of tommorow, but we should select
for them, through admissions requirements and accountability for the time

Avi Teitz  


From: Steve Gindi <steve@...>
Date: Thu, 1 Feb 1996 01:30:18 +0200 (IST)
Subject: Kollel - My Torah web page

Someone wrote:

>Perhaps we can solve the situation by having the kollel student agree to
>spend one year in service to the Jewish community (chinuch, kashrus,
>etc.) for every year that they get paid to sit and learn.

Until last year I agreed with such a concept. I learned in Yeshivah for
Ten years with the Kavanah to serve Jewish Community, Do kiruv and
Marbitz Torah. I was not naive about the political problems which Rabbis
must fight.

In May '94 I went to serve the Sephardic community of Great Neck. They
were starting a new synagogue and as a young "go getter" rabbi I was
perfect for the position. I was perfect for the postition but was not
allowed to work.

In that position I organized and called (on my phone bill - shul did not
yet have a phone or a building) hundreds of potential members, made
countless mailings using my own computer equipment, did news releases,
offered intro to Judaism courses, gave weekly shiurim, organized a youth
group to volunteer in an old age home, tought children taamim for their
Bar mitzvah, visit baal batim in their homes and Sucot and who knows how
many other tasks.

I honestly did happily gave my services and computer equipment/telephone.

A group a cranky old men did not like the way I looked so they decided 1
week after I moved my pregnant wife and three children across the world
that I was "destroying the Synagogue!"

In addition to Semicha from Heichal Shlomo, I have a degree in
Psychology, know computers, (which I now work in) have taken the Dale
Carnegie course and several other public speaking seminars (and received

As I do not want to get into all of the dirt I will just quote a famous
rabbi on the quoted subject.

"Steve, Now you see why most yeshivas want to produce rabbis."

If the Jewish community desires more kollel guys to serve them they must
be open to being served.

Today, I am working at Netmedia Internet services in Israel making as little
as I was as a rabbi. 

All Mail-Jewish readers can enjoy my new web sight at:


It contains many of the Divrie Torah I gave as a rabbi in Great Neck.


From: <jpw@...> (Joseph P. Wetstein)
Date: Thu, 1 Feb 1996 18:58:10 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Kollelim

Speaking of yeshivos actually contributing to a war effort because of
their learning...

During the war with Amalek (and for C'naan), weren't the troops made up
of ONLY those that were the tzadikkim (righteous) and NOT the 'reshayim'
(sinners)? By today's analogy, should not the yeshiva students be the
ONLY ones to actually go fight because their z'chussim (merits) in
learning will protect them, whereas for those that are not dati
(religious) they do not have the same protection?

Yossi Wetstein


From: Betzalel Posy <kenneth.posy@...>
Date: Thu, 1 Feb 1996 17:38:43 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Yeshivos on the Spiritual Front Line

> From: <EMPreil@...> (Elozor Preil)
> I remember when I was in Kol Torah at the time of the Yom Kippur War,
> the entire Yeshiva was called back into session immediately after
> Simchas Torah (one week earlier than scheduled) because all "soldiers"
> (and please, I on no way mean to dishonor Tzahal or Hesder) must serve
> without breaks during wartime.

While I absolutely agree with the sentiments of this poster overall
about the contribution that learning torah makes to the general defense,
I would like to point out two things. First, the hesder yeshiva that I
attended starts its zman every year, peace or war, the day after isru
chag of both pesach and shmini atzeres (unless that is friday or
shabbos, in which case they start sunday morning). In the opinion of the
administration, there is no reason for an extra week of "lazing around".
	Furthermore, many Israelies, both dati and non-dati, critisize
the yeshiva establishment for not taking their spiritual defense duties
seriously. the prime example that I have heard for this is the exact
same example sited by Rabbi Preil. While soldiers, both hesder and
regular army, where fighting some of the toughest battles in its history
from Yom Kippur through Simchas torah, 1973, the Yeshivos took a two
week _vacation_!  If these bochrim where really our soldiers on the
spiritual front, what they should have done is broken out the succas on
Motzei Yom Kippur and stayed in twenty-four hour session, through
shabbos and yom-tov, just like the soldiers on the physical front, till
the danger passed. My rosh Yeshiva, who learned at Kol Torah as well,
said that he was ashamed to see the students of his alma mater running
around Jerusalem, while his bochrim were celebrating succos nearer to
its original location.
	The flowering of Yeshivos and kollelim in eretz yisrael and
chutz la'aretz like no time in history is one of the greatest things
that has happened to clal yisrael. But in order to turn this movement of
Harbotzas torah into the beginning of the geula, the yeshivos must
remember that they are learning for the zchus of everyone, and community
service is an outgrowth of this attitude. So long as they are on our
spiritual frontlines, they deserve our unqualified support.

Betzalel Posy


End of Volume 23 Issue 10