Chiddush in Our “Beis Medrash”

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10 Responses

  1. joel rich says:

    Many in my generation see remaining in kollel or klei kodesh [religious work] for their entire lives as their chiddush [addition] to the last generation. Economics of the 60’s didn’t allow it. But today, real estate profits and generous government programs allow for more klei kodesh careers than ever before. An average family size of six creates a new teaching position for every four families (24 kids). Adding positions in administration, fundraising, kashrus, rabbanus, kiruv, and safrus, a klei kodesh position is created by just three frum families paying their bills on time.
    It is my fervent hope that the natural order of the world be suspended and that your childrens’ generation experience continued hashgacha (divine intervention)to allow this to occur.

    It might be worthwhile to go to to see R’ Steinman’s thoughts on the standard of living required to hope to accomplish this.

    One analyst I heard stated (bderech hateva ) that the accomplishments you listed were economically made feasible by borrowing from the prior generation and mortgaging the future generation. I think he was somewhat correct but also ignored the subsidization by those outside the system (e.g. government grants, fundraising from outside the community). May Hkb”h continue to provide for this outside generosity.


  2. easterner says:

    their parents generation , pushed by the Hard Right of israeli Haredism, wishes to Lakewoodize all of American Orthodoxy— hoping to duplicate the unyielding loyalty to dogmatic stringency.
    their teachers tell them that a life of less than 168 hr of Tora / wk is in someway a failure, and Mammon is evil.
    the question is will the dire Israeli poverty be duplicated in the US? all the assumptions, from family size to kollel life to chessed etc depend on a strong middle class and entrepenurial class on one end, and a strong Lechatchila Welfare ideology that would have been unthinkable a generation before – a yid living on the dole as a modus operandi? chas vshalom. now, it is a wedding present….

  3. Ahron says:

    The dominant ideological theme in charedi society is subservience to the doctrine of “yeridas ha’doros”. Therefore by definition there is little to innovate because anything that can be created now is inferior to what existed before. If that is so then the obvious question is: why bother? The only direction to go is back towards the past.

  4. Ori Pomerantz says:

    You’re essentially asking, what do we want the next generation to accomplish. Isn’t that putting the trailer before the pickup*? This question requires first an estimate of the future, of the challenges that the next generation will face and the opportunities they will have.

    * As a fellow Texan, I feel entitled to use this idiom.

    Here are a few trends that I think are relevant:

    1. Aging gentile population, due to declining birth rates. Alternatively, a gentile population with a larger percent of immigrants.

    2. Diminishing Jewish Heterodox population, due to declining birth rates and intermarriage.


    3. More Orthodox Jews, as a percent of the general population and the Jewish population.

    4. As you said, less government programs to fund education. The governmnet is heavily in debt, and it will be pressured to fund medical care for the elderly.

    5. Unless the US absorbs a huge number of immigrants, less real estate gains. Real estate gains are typically a result of population expansion.


    6. Probably less money to fund religious activities.

    Yaakov Rosenblatt: …a klei kodesh position is created by just three
    Yaakov Rosenblatt: frum families paying their bills on time).

    If we assume that almost all frum Jews who work are married with children, this means that a sixth of the working frum are klei kodesh. I might be wrong, but this sounds high.

    I think that the next frum generation’s chiddush is likely to be one or both of these options:

    A. Find ways to do more with less, so as to have less klei kodesh doing the work of the community.

    B. Willing accept poverty, in relative terms to their gentile and heterodox contemporaries, as the cost of a thriving Jewish community. I think this is the choice of the Israeli Charedi community.

    While I often think I am shoteh (= stupid), I have no reason to think I have nevuah (= prophecy). I’d love to be proven wrong.

  5. Jewish Observer says:

    “real estate profits and generous government programs allow for more klei kodesh careers than ever before”

    – not familar. what are these government programs and how do they allow klei kodesh careers?

  6. Steve Brizel says:

    The next generation-IMO, one should look back at Eastern Europe and the 19th and early 20th Centuries to see what happened to what happened-Haskalah, Communism and secular Zionism all made huge inroads within Eastern European Jewry despite the fact that Torah learning reached its then unparalleled zenith in quality of learning in Volozhin, Brisk, Kovna, Grodna and elsewhere. Today, the challenges are not ideological but rather finding a way to engage even those who are at risk in Torah, Avodah and Gmilus Chasadim and/or those who are at best apathetic about these goals-despite their hashkafa.

    While some may accept poverty, others may see that as an unacceptable risk for their children because grinding poverty was one of the reasons why European Jewry sought intellectual and other answers other than allegiance to the Torah world. The notion that yeshivah ketanas, BYs and day schools exist solely for the development of the next generation of Kolleleit or Gdolim as opposed to imparting Jewish literacy and observance and creating Bnei Torah and Bnos Torah who work is an issue that warrants discussion and not banishment from our communities and media.

  7. S. says:

    >Will their learning be more intense than ours? Perhaps, but how much more intense will it be? They won’t learn more “Reb Chaims” than we did, they can only begin to learn them younger.

    Maybe they’ll return to mikra or halakhah le-ma’ase and will learn just as intensely, if not more.

    My point is that we can’t view only one paradigm as learning with intensity. How did they learn intensely before Reb Chaim?

  8. bg says:

    I’m glad to hear that the present generation has perfected Judaism. Perhaps the next generation can be misaken (correct) this generation’s narcissism.

  9. Shira Salamone says:

    I’m with Easterner on this one. When my father broke his leg, my mother went back to work to support us, because she would rather have died than go on Welfare. Since when did it become perfectly acceptable in the Jewish community for whole lifestyles to be based on perfectly able-bodied people living for years on end on hand-outs from the government?

    In my generation, being a college graduate was a chiddush. In my son’s, it’s a necessity. My husband is a college accounting instructor, and he can tell you for a fact that his students are desparately seeking college degrees because it’s becoming increasing difficult to get a job that pays enough to support a family without one. I fear that, after two generations of parents without a college education, the Chareidi community will find its institutions suffering massive financial failure because there won’t be enough people making a decent living to keep the community’s organizations alive. I would hate to see a situation in which the last person to leave the bet midrash would have to turn off the lights *permanently* because no one could afford to pay even the electric bills, much less the rent. Im ein kemach, ein torah.

  10. Shira Salamone says:

    And what about the impact of diminishing income on marriage? Is there any truth to the rumor that young ladies are already having difficulty with shidduchim (finding marital matches) because their fathers can’t afford to support prospective sons-in-laws’ plans to spend a few years in kollel?

    “We looked to the Gedolim of Eretz Yisroel for psak din [rulings in Jewish law] and more and more for Hashkafa [Jewish philosophy].” I confess to being puzzled as to what the point is in supporting all these wonderful learning opportunities in the local community if one is not interested in what any of the local scholars has to say.

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