Volume 23 Number 23
                       Produced: Sun Feb 25  2:30:57 1996

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

         [Avi Feldblum]
Kollel and After
Kollel and Army
         [Zvi Weiss]
Kollel in Israel
         [Carl & Adina Sherer]


From: Avi Feldblum <feldblum@...>
Date: Sun, 25 Feb 1996 02:29:06 -0500
Subject: Administrivia

Hello All,

I hope you all enjoyed a bit of quiet from mail-jewish, maybe got an
oppertunity to catch up on some unread email. I'm back now from a quick
trip to Tokyo, it was interesting to be there, no time for any
sightseeing (although I did get to ride the bullet trains) and good to
be back home. It will take a few days to get fully caught up, but I
expect I will be sending out a fair number of issues this week, as well
as trying to respond to any private email that people have sent me. 



From: <Mordechai.E.Lando@...>
Date: Fri, 16 Feb 96 13:01:19 EST
Subject: Kollel and After

Kollel and after from the perspective of a father, shver,board of
education member, and labor economist. 

Many of the posters on the Kollel topic are harboring bizzare
misconceptions concerning what is really happening in the world of
learning.  The vast majority (over 90%) of those entering kollel do not
regard this as their lifetime job.  Many, even before entering kollel,
have some conception of what they will want to do after kollel.  Most
frequently this involves going into chinuch; more recently rabbanus has
also become an option.

Duration in kollel.  Many yungerleit have an agenda of what they hope to
achieve in kollel, and are ready to leave upon its completion.  Others
leave when they see that the burden on their wives, children, parents
and in-laws is becoming excessive.  There are exceptions: I know one
yungerman who has been in kollel over 20 years.  The yeshiva has been
trying to get him to leave, there is a tremendous strain on his working
wife, and his older kids are very resentful of the poverty stricken way
they have been brought up.(They don't expect to follow in their father's

Career after Kollel.  Posters have urged that kollel leit be forced to
serve in chinuch.  From my vantage point, this isn't really necessary.
There are, generally, sufficient candidates for chinuch openings.
(There may be exceptions in religiously remote areas.)  There are at
least two more important issues.  As posters have noted, not every boger
kollel is equipped to be a rebbe. However, many of these might become
good rebbes with some training and guidance. There are some of these
programs in place already; there is a need to expand them.

The most serious problem comes with those young men who leave kollel
intent on going into chinuch, and then find after a year or two that
teaching is not their forte.  As a member of a va'ad ha'chinuch, which
has to make hard decisions concerning hiring and retaining rebbes, I can
testify to the difficulty of making these decisions.  Someone comes with
great references, even with experience, and still doesn't make it on the
job.  I can think of 5 or 6 instances (not all from our institution)over
the last decade, where young men aged 25-30 with families were told or
(less frequently) realized on their own that they were not fit for their
lifelong vocational goal.

Being told that one has no place in chinuch, leads invariably to shock,
boo'sha (shame) and sometimes even depression. I was told about one
talmid chochim who, after loosing his position as a rosh yeshiva, did
not open a gemora for two years.  There is a desperate need for
counseling for these "flunkouts": this counseling should begin while
they are still learning.  Kollel yungerleit must be told that there are
other vocational choices: "es iz nisht kein shander" (It isn't
scandalous) to work outside of chinuch.  To put it more strongly: it is
a mitzvah not to teach rather than to teach poorly or improperly.

Concommittant with this counseling, there is a need for vocational
training in fields these young men might enter such as: sales,
computers, managment, etc.  In fact the optimum situation would be for
the community to support 6 or so moths of post-kollel training in
chinuch or its alternatives.

The snow emergency just announced forces me to cut short, but other 
issues remaing to be discussed include: respectable salaries for 
rebbes;  uninterrupted pay for rebbes etc.

A gut g'bensht shabbos mishpotim/sh'kolim


From: Zvi Weiss <weissz@...>
Date: Fri, 16 Feb 1996 08:43:44 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Kollel and Army

Just a couple of points in regrad to Kollel and Army:

1. Since we are not in a society where people are clamoring to learn
with the same zeal as to go into the Army, I do not understand the
poster who complained that it is a "self-serving" arguement that
learning is *as important* as Service.  NOWHERE that I have looked is
there ANY statement that just because a person CHOOSES to learn is that
learning devalued.

2. The fact that the Secular community community does not understand
this fact does not invalidate it.  This is actually the focus of a
shaila but if one is PROPERLY performing a mitzva, I do not know that it
is considered a chillul hashem simply because secularists deliberately
reject the notion.  While I, too, think that the Hesdernikim do
wonderful things, I think that we can recognize that there is a place
for BOTH types of learning.. I have little doubt that when it says "Elef
LaMateh", even those who went in as soldiers were learned and observant
-- much like those in hesder! I have little doubt that if we merited to
have an "army" solely composed 1/2 of people sitting and learning and
the other 1/2 of hesder people that we would be far more successful in
our defense of the land (of course, it would also probably mean that
Mashiach had come!).

3. It is sad but true that not all who "sit and learn" are doing it with
real "Mesirut Nefesh" -- that does not invalidate the basic arguement,
however.  That only means that the Chareidi must be honest with him/her
self. when making this arguement.  Indeed, if we talk about "learning as
a defense" it clearly means a pure and dedicated learning.  On the other
hand, a partial arguement in favor of the "electioneering" activities
may be that the Chareidim were so afraid of the consequences of a Labor
gov't and how such a gov't may restrict or limit learning that soemone
felt that such activities were "justified" to protect the on-going
existence of the kollelim.  Personally, I think that such a move TOTALLY
backfires and reflects the inability of some segments of the Chareidi
population to make a serious attempt to UNDERSTAND those chilonim.



From: Carl & Adina Sherer <sherer@...>
Date: Fri, 16 Feb 1996 12:54:44 +0200
Subject: Kollel in Israel

I'm amazed that it's taken this long but in Vol.23 #21 Roger Kingsley
finally raises the issue of the relationship between Kollel and the army in
Israel.  I'd like to address that issue - hopefully I won't catch too many
flames :-)

I'd like to start with some very general statements that maybe we can all
agree upon and then see where it goes from there.  As historical background,
you should all be aware that part of the "religious status quo" in Israel is
that all of those who learn in Yeshiva full time here are entitled to have
their army service deferred until such time as they are not learning in
Yeshiva.  During that time they are also not allowed to earn more than a
small amount of money as a stipend.  

I'd like to set forth the following propositions:

1. There are some people who learn in Kollel because they feel it is the
right thing to do.  They take their learning seriously, at tremendous self
sacrifice, and demonstrate the hasmoda (steady concentration) we would all
expect from a Kollel man.

2. There are others who learn in Kollel who would rather be elsewhere.

3. There are still others who are carried on lists as learning in Kollel,
but in reality are out working and earning money "off the books".

4. Israeli society regards the army as a "unifying factor" in the country.
What this means to Israeli society may include some things that Charedi
society (and for that matter dati society) cannot and will not accept.

5. The army can be dangerous to many people's spiritual health.

I'd now like to discuss each of these propositions:

1. There are some people who learn in Kollel because they feel it is the
right thing to do.  They take their learning seriously, at tremendous self
sacrifice, and demonstrate the hasmoda (steady concentration) we would all
expect from a Kollel man.

I would submit that so long as these people maintain that hasmoda, we as
fruhm Jews ought to at least support their right to remain in Kollel.  For
the best of them (and how one determines the "best" is frankly a difficult
subject), I would even argue that we ought to be providing them with
support.  For all of the reasons stated by many people (most eloquently IMHO
by Ira Benjamin in Vol.23 #14), I believe that we as a fruhm society have an
obligation to support Torah learning and the development of Torah scholars.
I think that this obligation is separate from the obligation that each of us
has to learn Torah themselves on a regular basis.  But I also think that
those who are supported by society have an obligation to spread Torah to
society.  Unfortunately, the attitude in most of the Yeshivas today - of all
stripes - in Israel is that if you're not learning in Yeshiva you couldn't
possibly be doing any serious learning and therefore why bother.  The idea
of the baalebos (householder, i.e. working stiff :-) with a regular seder of
learning just isn't common here.  IMHO that's just plain wrong.  I don't
recall seeing any exceptions for people who work for a living when the
Gemara in Yoma suggests that one of the first questions one is asked after
120 is "kavata itim laTorah" (did you set aside fixed times to learn?).  I
think that those who are spending all of their time in learning have a
special obligation to bring that learning to those who are not so devoting
their time.

2. There are others who learn in Kollel who would rather be elsewhere.

I can't help but believe this is true.  There are simply too many young men
roaming the streets of the fruhm neighborhoods in Yerushalayim during the
morning seder hours for it to be otherwise.  I think that something has to
be done to enable these men, who are no longer really "into" their full time
learning, to leave the Yeshiva, fulfill whatever obligations they have to
society, and start to hold legitimate jobs.  Yes, there are people who earn
money off the books to avoid the army.  And by not giving these people the
opportunity to earn money legitimately I believe that Israeli *secular*
society is cutting off its nose to spite its face because the amount of tax
money that is lost is enormous.  I would submit that:

        a.  The army doesn't want charedim anyway because they won't
take orders from female soldiers, are too difficult to integrate into
regular units because of their demands regarding food, Shabbos and what
they do in their spare time (amongst other reasons).

        b.  The army already has more people than it knows what to do
with, but because of item 4 on my list (the role of the army in Israeli
society) cannot or will not give people up.

        c.  It is in the best interest of Charedi society that these
people leave the Yeshivas, so that they can support themselves and their
families and stop being a burden on Charedi society, but the Charedi
leaders fear that if they do leave the Yeshivas they will chas v'shalom
leave fruhmkeit, or at least drop to a lower madrega (level).
                (My wife points out that this highlights a weakness in
the Yeshiva system in Israel if the leaders are really afraid that after
so many years in the system a man will simply throw out his fruhmkeit
upon leaving; it shows that maybe the heart has not been affected).

        d.  Much of secular society has no interest in letting these
people go out and earn a living, because to much of secular society
Charedim are a convenient scapegoat (see my earlier posts on
discrimination against Charedim and some of the views cited by Adam
Schwartz in Vol.23 #19).  Secular society would prefer to penalize these
people for life rather than let them support themselves.  I know - I
hear it at work every day.

Thus although to me at least the solution is obvious - some sort of national
service specifically geared for Charedi men - I fear that the economic
situation in the Charedi community (which judging by the number of shnorrers
- beggars - in shul on any given morning is already quite desparate) will
have to become much worse before *anyone* starts to take any interest in
such a solution being implemented.  And before anyone jumps in and complains
that this would involve no risk to life or limb while the army does involve
such risks - there are many more people in the army with desk jobs than
there are in combat units.  We may have a different perception of what
soldiers do in the army and how much risk is involved for the average
soldier, because I suspect that most of the Israeli soldiers the average
person on this list comes into contact with are probably Hesder people.
Until the mid-80's Hesder soldiers *only* served in the tanks (one of the
consequences of the high number of casualties they took in the Lebanon War
was changing this policy) and a disproportionate number of Hesder soldiers
still serve in combat units.  Much of the "upper crust" of Tel Aviv
(secular) society serves in "Intelligence" which is strictly desk jobs (most
of the lawyers and accountants I know served there).  I should add that I
believe that there should be economic incentives for serving in combat units
as opposed to regular units (there aren't today) BTAT.

3. There are still others who are carried on lists as learning in Kollel,
but in reality are out working and earning money "off the books".

For these people I think the solution I propose above is *critical*.  I
don't think either side's claim in the debate here (the Charedim claim
they don't exist, the chilonim claim they're most of the Charedi
society) is accurate but I know they exist.  And for the record I am not
counting the legitimate Kollel men who earn a little extra money on the
side by doing repair work and the like between sdorim (learning
sessions).  I think their attempts to support themselves and take less
from society are admirable and that a way should be found to give them
the opportunity to make this income legitimate (if such a man were then
chas v'shalom disabled he would at least be able to receive disability
benefits in place of that income instead of having to beg society for

4. Israeli society regards the army as a "unifying factor" in the
country.  What this means to Israeli society may include some things
that Charedi society (and for that matter dati society) cannot and will
not accept.

It is MHO that the emphasis that Israeli society places on the army (it
is a standard item on any Israeli resume and is one of the first
questions one is asked on an interview) is overblown.  There, I said it
in public :-) The only further comment I have on the matter is that when
the "religious status quo" was set up here after the State became
independent, the Chazon Ish offered to send all of the Yeshiva boys to
the army if the army would exclude women.  Ben Gurion refused and this
is why much of Charedi society avoids the army today at nearly all
costs.  And for those who think that women's service in the Israeli army
today has any relation to "kalla mechupasa" (that in a war that is a
mitzva - which is open to halachic dispute in Israel today - we even
take a bride from her canopy), I can only cite the following incident
which was reported in the Israeli press 2-3 weeks ago.

A group of women soldiers was taken for a *required* tour of a British
aircraft carrier which was docked outside of Haifa.  The tour lasted ten
minutes and then the women were taken to a bar on the ship to
"entertain" the soldiers.  After the women refused and violently
objected, they were permitted to leave the ship.  None of this surprises
this observer who has lived in Israel for 4.5 years.  What surprised me
was the army's reaction.  Instead of apologizing for the incident, their
reaction was "We did nothing wrong.  As soon as the women objected we
permitted them to leave."  No one thought to ask the question as to
whether it was proper to bring them there in the first place.

In another incident about a year ago, a high ranking general stated in
public that in the army, "men are soldiers and women are prostitutes".
No one in the army brass even saw fit to apologize (at first).  He
himself never apologized, nor was he disciplined.

I think the Chazon Ish's fears of what would happen with women in the
Israeli army were justified.

5. The army can be dangerous to many people's spiritual health.

In light of the stories I cited above (and many others like them), I don't
see how this assertion can even be questioned.

Sorry about the length.  Shabbat Shalom.

Carl Sherer
Carl and Adina Sherer


End of Volume 23 Issue 23