Into the Trap

In his comments to my previous post, and in a post of his own, Rabbi Slifkin forcefully advocates for secular studies at High School age, and advocates withholding support from those Avreichim who choose to send their children to Yeshiva Ketanah.

In two places in his responsa (Igros Moshe YD 3 82; YD 4 36:1 [the latter responsum is from 1982]), Rav Moshe Feinstein discusses the verse in Psalms (1:1): “Praised is the man who did not walk in the counsel of the wicked.” He explains that this refers to people who prematurely concern themselves with the future need for parnassah. They take sources from Chazal which state that one may not rely on miracles, and they are superlatively stringent in that regard, to the point of abandoning singular focus on one’s Torah studies during one’s formative years.

In the earlier responsum (YD 3 81), R’ Moshe states that in places where there is no need to establish High Schools (primarily because there is no risk that the children will otherwise attend public school) it is forbidden to establish them. In the next one (YD 3 82), which addressed those in charge of Mesivtos (Yeshiva High Schools), he adds that it is strictly forbidden for those youngsters engaged in full time Torah study to take away any time at all for secular studies. Thus, as I indicated in my own comments to my previous post, the halachic and ideological burden of proof necessary to shoulder the responsibility for abolishment of Yeshivah Ketanah, almost as an eis laasos (“an abandonment of Torah for the sake of its preservation”) rests extraordinarily heavily on those who seek to do so.

So let us examine the options.

It is agreed that a significant percentage of those in Yeshiva Ketanah will indeed become those who support themselves from within the Torah world. As Rabbeim, Rabbanim, Rashei Yeshiva, Mechabrei Sefarim, Mashgichei Kashrus, Toanim Rabbaniyim, Sofrim, Kiruv, and perhaps some others I’ve failed to mention. Let us further recall that if we look at the setup Hashem envisioned for the Jewish people entering Eretz Yisrael, He purposely made it so that Shevet Levi, some 8% of the populace, would not have land, making it virtually impossible for them to earn a living. Thus, it became the responsibility of the nation at large to provide these Torah leaders, teachers, and students with Maaser. As R’ Hirsch explains,Hashem issued a Biblical prohibition against abandoning the Leviyim (Chinuch, Mitzvah 450) due to concern for potential bitterness against the financial burden on the nation at large. He adds that the length of our days upon the Land depends on our appreciation of the Leviim, and allowing them to influence the spiritual development of the nation.

The Mitzvah to support the Levi applies nowadays, as per Chinuch there, to those who study Torah and cannot take the time to earn their keep. The Chafetz Chaim (Torah Or 11) asserts that the primary address for one’s Maaser money nowadays must be those who toil in Torah. There’s much to say about the centrality of the Torah learners, but I’ll choose a quote from the Ohr HaChaim, (Bereishis 1:1, 5) – “[The world was created] for Torah, called “Reishis…” and thus, one who merited Torah has merited the entire world, and one who has not merited Torah should not benefit from the world even to the extent of setting foot in it, unless he serves a supporting role for those who toil in it.”

It is further agreed that about 50% of those who attend Yeshiva Ketanah do manage to crack the pre-academic tracks and go on to earn degrees. Who are those 50% (comprising, for the most part, those who are not the most successful in Yeshiva and Kollel)? As I stated, this needs to be studied. One commentor went to far as to question my intellectual honesty in even raising the question, while apparently failing to realize that he likely provided one cornerstone of the study – what level of secular studies was there in the subject’s elementary school! Other factors I mentioned may very well play a role as well.

It is further agreed that many Charedim who went to Yeshiva Ketanah do have jobs. Granted, not extremely well-paying ones. but jobs: electricians, technicians, shopkeepers, clerks, bank tellers, security guards, cab drivers, bakers, real estate agents, moneychangers… In aggregate, many such jobs exist. This is a workable fallback option that has to be taken with open eyes, but does not contradict one’s responsibility to have a means of livelihood. The final Mishnah is Kiddushin states that one should teach his son an honest and easy trade, and then daven to He who owns all wealth and possessions, for all crafts have those who are poor and those who are wealthy (and my experience in a matzah bakery this week, meeting someone with a doctorate kneading dough [double entendre unintended], eloquently bears this out).

Yes, ultimately, there are poor people in the Charedi world. Some of them, heroically, choose to stay poor and dedicate their lives to Torah. Others do not. But one might think Israel is a country comprising solely wealthy non-Charedim and poor Charedim. There is severe poverty among other subgroups in Israeli society. And they, sadly, don’t even have Mishpachah magazines with glossy adverts for expensive Pesach resorts and upscale homes in Central Jerusalem to trumpet it. Many of them don’t even have mishpachah to help them out.

In sum, before undertaking this battle, it must be firmly, virtually unequivocally established that it is unreasonable to expect to earn a living coming out of Yeshiva Ketanah, or at least to come up with a set of solid predictive factors. Considering, for example, that among my siblings, the one who attended Yeshiva Ketanah fares the best financially, a blanket rejection is simply a non-starter.

[Note: I shut down comments on the previous post because I was dealing with them as they came, at breakneck chat room pace (note the time stamps), not the ordinary blogging stroll. I thought this would be of service to the readers, but burned myself out in the process. For this one, I plan to take it slower. I beg your indulgence.]

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61 Responses

  1. Gershon Distenfeld says:

    Among the many problems in this post, the Leviim were to be supported be said they taught Torah and otherwise served the Klal. Those sitting in Kollel are not doing anything for the Klal other than being selfish.

    [DB: Sanhedrin 99b: “An Apikores. Such as whom? Said Rav Yosef, such as those who say, What do the Rabbis benefit us? They study Scritpure for themselves; they study Mishnah for themselves.” Rashi: “And they do not realize that they sustain the world.”]

  2. Gil Student says:

    If giving ma’aser sufficed to pay for a Torah education for our children, I think we’d have a very different and happy community

    [DB: No argument from me there. I have what to say about spending priorities, but that’s a whole different issue.]

  3. dr. bill says:

    Rabbi Beckerman, A few points:

    1) RMF ztl was not the only posek achron for Israel and was not addressing the current mitzius. In reality, there were countless US yeshivot (in that era) that had a robust secular high school.

    [DB: You want me to post opinions of Rav Wolbe, Rav Steinman, and Rav Auerbach? If you want to distinguish between the mitzius then and now, and make such a drastic change, the burden of proof is on you.

    R’ Moshe laments somewhere in his Teshuvos that parents won’t listen to the true halachah regarding secular studies.]

    2) If (almost all) charedi children received a solid secular education through the eighth grade, the situation would not be as grave. That is the root of the problem.

    [DB: Like I said, these issues need to be examined.]

    3) Solutions that assume doctors, scientists, lawyers, teachers, etc. are created in a different system cannot be halakhically based. (Would we have to create a new system if the vast majority of Israeli’s were dati?) The teshuvot of over a century ago by R. Dovid (Karliner) Friedman are worthy of study. I have read (a translation of) part of his teshuvah about the situation in Israel and listeners thought it was part of the contemporary debate. R. S. Leiner’s lecture on this area highlighted the teshuvah.

    [DB: Again, the reality has to be checked. How many lawyers and teachers are there who went through the pre-academics. Also, if a mother sheds tears every week at וזכני לגדל ומאירים את העולם בתורה, then that’s their dream.]

    4) Comparing chareidim to shevet Levi is nothing short of comical. a) They minister to the whole people? b) They are more deserving of support than the Tannaim and Amoraim, who worked? c) Need I mention the Mishneh Torah, while we are cherry-picking sources? d) This is (perhaps) a good argument for increased funding for Hesder Yeshivot and other institutions that attempt to influence positive religious/halakhic development in the broader population.

    [DB: a) What? They Charedim aren’t involved in Kiruv? In preserving any semblance of religion in the State? b) Are you asking a question on me, or on Chinuch (and see Yerushalmi Maaser Sheni 5:3 – “R’ Yonah would give his maasros to R’ Acha bar Ulla, not because he was a Kohen, but because he toiled in Torah (and see Pnei Moshe there), as well as Rabbeinu Bachye to Shemos 16:4)? c) Citing Rambam here is the ultimate cherry=pick, because absolutely no community follows him today. d) See a).]

    5) Watching chareidi Gedolim, politicians, askanim, etc. I would be more alarmed were it not for my belief that Prof. Katz z’l’s positions about how change occurs in a traditional community will again be shown to be correct. Unfortunately, the pace will not prevent another generation (or two, chas ve’shalom) of poverty.

  4. Aryeh Lev says:

    The Torah scholars referred to in Sanhedrin 99b were supported by voluntary contributions from family members, philanthropists, or members of their kehillah. Today, there simply isn’t enough voluntary philanthropy to support the tens of thousands of avreichim, and they become a burden on the government.

    [DB: I mentioned in the earlier thread an idea that might merit consideration – passing a law that funds Torah learners not on a per capita basis ex-budget, but as a fixed percentage of the annual expenditure, distributed among the learners. Besides the solution to the burgeoning number issue, it would also give pause for consideration as to who gets a piece of the pie, knowing that every unworthy person takes some amount of money away from the worthy ones.]

  5. dr. bill says:

    Rabbi Beckerman, in your response to gershon distenfeld you compare the amoraim to our current generation? really? their learning (not by the masses, but by amoraim whose batei midrash were rather small) did serve the wider population. we all read the words of r. yosef. besides, we do not learn halakha from stories.

    [DB: It isn’t the Torah study from the generation of the Amoraim that sustains the world today, but the Torah study of today’s generation. And this is not a story.]

  6. Eli Blum says:

    “The Chafetz Chaim (Torah Or 11) asserts that the primary address for one’s Maaser money nowadays must be those who toil in Torah”

    Interesting, because Chafetz Chaim (Toras HaBayis, in the Chasimah, Found here says that your funds should be split 50/50 Torah and Chessed, and the 50% for Torah should go to Yeshivos and Talmud Torahs, or “להחזיק אברכים מפלגי תורה על חשבונו” (note the CC says מפלגי). This follows the Shulchan Aruch in Yoreh Dayah 249:16, which says that paying for children learning Torah has higher priority than other Tzedakos. I would not think that the CC is arguing on the Shulchan Aruch regarding this matter.

    Also, if you could give an exact quote of your Chofetz Chaim (or an online resource) it would help us understand exactly where he requests Tzedaka funds be applied.

    [DB: First of all, if one would give 5% of his income to whichever Avreich he feels is toiling hard – aderabbah. The quote from Torah Ohr is as follows:

    וידוע שבזמננן עיקר מצות מעשר מן הרויח שמזמין לו ה’ צריך שיהיה לעמלי תורה כמו מלפנים שהיה מצוה ליתנו לכהנים וללויים וכדאיתא בתנחומא פרשת ראה וז”ל עשר בשביל שתתעשר, עשר בשביל שלא תתחסר, רמז למפרשי ימים (היינו אותן אנשים שעוסקים במסחר) שיפרישו אחד מעשרה לעמלי תורה, וגם מלפנים שהיו נותנין אותם לכהנים וללויים היה גם כן עיקר המצוה לדקדק אם הם בעלי תורה וע”י זה יתחזקו בתורת ה’ כמו שאמרו (בחולין דף קלא) אין נותנין מתנה לכהן עם הארץ שנאמר לתת מנת הכהנים והלויים למען יחזקו בתורת ה.]

  7. Eli Blum says:

    “There’s much to say about the centrality of the Torah learners, but I’ll choose a quote from the Ohr HaChaim, (Bereishis 1:1, 5) – “[The world was created] for Torah, called “Reishis…” and thus, one who merited Torah has merited the entire world, and one who has not merited Torah should not benefit from the world even to the extent of setting foot in it, unless he serves a supporting role for those who toil in it.””

    Do you believe that only those in Kollel have the ability to “those who toil in it”?

    [DB: Have the ability? No. But toiling in Torah means sweating for hours over Iyyun and Chazarah. Whoever does that has my vote as an Ameil BaTorah who deserves support.

    And since this point of Ameili Torah has come up in this comment, I’ll mention it. Even if we were to presume that the comparison to Levi refers to Torah teachers, things like the Mesivta Shas did not fall out of the sky. But regardless, it doesn’t. The source for Chinuch is the Yerushalmi and Medrash Tanchuma I mentioned above, both of which explicitly make the equation to those who toil in Torah. The source is a passuk in Divrei HaYamim למען יחזקו בתורת ה’. The Chafetz Chaim I cited says this as well. Chinuch does not mention teaching of Torah in his extrapolation from Levi.]

  8. Y Schwartz says:

    If you take into account the fact that shevet Yissachar was also learning and being supported, the percentage increases further.

  9. Avraham says:

    I was both encouraged and disappointed to see this post. On the one hand it is an important discussion that needs to continue but it is disheartening that you (DB) chose to close comments on your last thread when faced with an onslaught of crticisms, and then you simply open up another one on the same subject. Perhpas if you did not feel a need to make a comment when printing every post and rather followed the common protocol of letting people make their points and then responding to all of them with one of your own, you would not feel so overwhelmed.

    [DB: Perhaps. But, at the pace things were going, that would have meant a lot of back and forth over time and potentially missed points. I’m happy with the current setup.]

    There are many points to respond to and sources to qoute as you chose to cherry pick the sources that support your position rather than being intellectually honest and presenting dissenting mekorot (the first two that come to mind are the Gemara in Brachos 35b describing the disagreement between Rav Yishmael and Rav Shimon Bar Yochei and the classic Rambam in Hilchos Talmud Torah perek 3 halacha 10)

    [DB: RSHBY is talking about people going into learning with absolutely no money and no clue how they are going to get any, and they never engage in any hishtadlus whatsoever (see Nefesh Hachaim 1:8; Ohr Torah by RYI Chaver 124, at al). I’ve already responded about the Rambam – nobody paskens like him.

    And here too, once we’re on the topic: I’m not sure there is a machlokes between the Rambam and the Chinuch (which is sourced in a Yerushalmi). The Rambam seems to have no problem with someone supporting a Talmid Chacham, nor with him taking support. He has a problem with making a living out of it (or any Torah-related field for that matter); i.e., Kollel. I realize R’ Chaim Kanievsky (Derech Emunah there) seems to indicate otherwise, but it is plausible that that is what he means.]

    but in the end here is the key point. It is a straw man to suggest that people oppossed to your position do not beleive in the value or importance of Talmud Torah or the neeed to create Talmidei Chachimim. The question is one of scale. Througout Jewish History it was only the true exemplary who were soley committed to limud torah and now it is required for all in the Charedi world and is done so on the backs of everyone else.

    [DB: The Charedim give their kids the Chinuch that is most likely to lead them down the path of Torah excellence, as I imagine Levi and Yissachar did. Those who are not making it need to go to work. Those who are toiling hard should stay and be encouraged to do so.]

    The Gemara in Snahedrin that you quote is therefore irrelevant as it was not describing the present day situation and the myraid of people who are leaning in Kollel who don’t belong there. (No one disagrees with that Gemara; it does not, however, describe how many people should be in that category.) I do not need a study to see the rampant poverty in the Israeli Charedi society and all of us, daily, are asked to support people who are suffering becuase they are part of this broken system.

    [DB: The Gemara in Sanhedrin is most relevant to everyone fulfilling Sidrei HaYeshiva. Again, walk into the Yeshivos and see what’s going on there.]

    Slobodka yehsiva was the pre-eminent yeshiva of it’s day and it prodcued incredible gedolim such as Rav Aharon Kotler, Rav Yaakov Kaminetsky, Rav Yaakov Ruderman, and Rav Yitzchak Hutner – just to name some of its’ illustrious graduates. Rav Yaakov Kmainetsky said that the yeshiva had a policy that you were only allowed to spend 5 years in kollel and then you were required to leave and get a job. If that was true of these gedolim all the more so should the tens of thousands of people who are not learning at close to such a level (if they are even showing up to seder at all) should be going out and supporting themselves.

    [DB: I believe that policy was stipulated by the person who funded it, but I could be mistaken on that. Ultimately, I don’t mind if people want to direct their money to Kollelei Horaah.

    And here too, I’ll address a related issue. I saw Rabbi Slifkin said that people in the Religious Zionist world shouldn’t view Charedim as the Torah learners who should be supported, but rather the RZ/MO institutions. This literally brought tears to my eyes. The Torah was not born in 1948, and without the Charedi Torah world doing what it did in Eretz Yisrael (and for that matter, R’ Chaim Yaakov Goldvicht, Talmid of the Chazon Ish and Brisker Rav, founding Hesder) there would not be a tiny fraction of the Torah there is in the RZ/Mo world. Who educated your children over the past six decades? You don’t study Schottenstein? You don’t study Mesivta Gemaras? You don’t study Chazon Ish? Where is the modicum of hakaras hatov for preserving Torah that was destroyed in the Holocaust? The seculars have more appreciation for it than this!

    He then makes a laughable comparison to YCT. Whoever thinks that the big Agunah and mamzeirus Shaalos should go to the YCT Rabbis is welcome to support them. Who did Eyal Yifrach and Gil-ad Sha’ar’s (HYD) relatives go to so they could pour out their torn souls and shed a tear? Not to LWMO, not RWMO, and not to RZ. They went to R’ Chaim Kanievsky, the Sanzer Rebbe, and the Belzer Rebbe. Should they have shut their doors?]

  10. Gershon Distenfeld says:

    Thanks for pointing out that I’m an Apikores – I’ll be sure to notify my community so that I don’t C”V influence anyone! 🙂

    You missed my point (or I probably didn’t explain it well enough) The selfishness I’m referring to is not in their Torah learning (which is what your source addresses), it’s in their abdication of their responsibilities to the broader society and the burden try place on the tzibur to support them. That is incredibly selfish and is clearly against both the actual and spirit of what Hashem wants from us.

    [DB: It depends. Yes, not everyone in Kollel should be there. But as long as they are striving for greatness in Torah, whoever they are, they should be there. I have no problem with people who want to direct their support to specific individuals who they feel fit the bill.]

    Additionally, do you really want to get into a debate by quoting selective sources? How about this one?

    “One who makes up his mind to involve himself with Torah and not to work, and to support himself from charity, has profaned God’s Name and brought the Torah into contempt, extinguished the light of religion, brought evil upon himself, and has taken away his life from the World-to-Come… (Hilchos Talmud Torah 3:10)”

    Unlike aggadic statements in the gemorah that are not always meant l’halacha, Rambam meant what he wrote on a very practical level.

    The Kollel system in Israel today is unprecedented in Jewish history, goes against countless maamrei Chazal as well as the way Jews have always behaved. For a group preaching the importance of Mesorah at every turn, I find this extremely puzzling.

    [DB: I’ve related to the sources. Regarding the innovation of Kollel, R’ Shlomo Brevda wrote a whole Kuntress about it called Amalah Shel Torah. See if you can get hold of it.]

  11. Sholom says:

    I find it odd that you should quote Rav Hirsch to back up your position of Torah only. If anyone was for Torah Im Derech Eretz (and that also means secular education, not like charedi revisionists like to say), it was Rav Hirsch.

    If you will read Rav Hirsch on Chumash, you will see that he says innumerable times that the ideal of Klal Yisroel was that each shevet should blossom using their own unique strengths – to become Torah farmers, merchants, seafarers, etc., and in this fashion Klal Yisroel would glorify Hashem. When Bnei Yisroel entered Eretz Yisroel, each person was not allocated a Yeshiva in order to become a Rosh Yeshiva. He was allocated a plot of LAND to WORK and to support himself thereby. Yes, there were the Leviim who were to be supported as the Torah guardians and teachers, but the VAST majority of people were to be members of the Torah working class.

    [DB: The vast majority of the people in Israel are members of the working class. The vast majority of them engage in secular studies. R’ Hirsch did allow for Torah-only among dedicated people. Quote from the Seridei Aish, in his bio of Rav Hirsch:

    בספריו הגדולים, ביחוד בספרו הראשון, קטן-הכמות ורב האיכות אגרות צפון, הולך הרב הירש ומבאר ומבהיר את מושג התרבות, שאין להחליפו בידיעות שימושיות מדעיות וטכניות, לימוד שפות והשתלמות מקצועית. הללו הם דברים שמלחמת החיים דורשת אותם, ואי אפשר ליהודי חרד להסתלק מהם אם רוצה הוא בפרנסה המכבדת את בעליה ובחיים בלתי-תלויים ברחמנות ובמתנות של נדיבים. ההסתלקות מלימודים אלה מותרת רק לאנשים בעלי כשרון ושאר רוח הרוצים להקדיש עצמם לתורה ולעבודתה, מתוך ויתור על עושר ותענוג, על ההנאות והנוחיות שבחיי אומנות אקדמאית ועסקי מסחר ועל הקנינים המרחיבים דעתו של אדם

    This is what the Charedim train their kids to be – people who are driven to dedicate themselves to Torah and service of Hashem, willing to forgo a life of wealth and pleasure. Their mothers shed tears that their children should light up the world with their Torah, and their fathers do everything they can to encourage them to became great. It used to be that the entire Shevet Levi and Yissachar did that – whole tribes, with all of their kids, were inculcated with this ideal. Yes, those children who have tried and we see that they are not baalei kishron need job training.

    I’ll add a further quote from the Seridei Aish himself which, importantly, supplements the practical outlook of my post with a glimpse into the heart of the idealists, who likely view this whole discussion with some degree of revulsion:

    הישיבה מבקשת איפוא לדחות מעליה כל מה שעשוי לסכן את התאימות וההרמוניה הפנימית שלה, החשש הוא מפני השסע הנפשי אשר התרבות האירופית צופנת בחובה. אמת אמנם כי החשש שחניכי ישיבות אלה לא יסתגלו מאוחר יותר לחיי המעשה עשוי להתאמת, אך כל עוד הם שוהים בישיבה, נפשם רווייה באידיאליזם זך ומזוכך, הדוחה בשתי ידים כל מחשבה לכיוון פראקטי. שאלתו של סופר ידוע, בהזדמנות ביקורו באחת הישיבות, לאחד מצעירי הישיבה, כיצד הוא סבור להיערך לקראת עמידתו בחייו העתידיים, נענתה בתשובה ההחלטית: זה אשר רואה בתורה אמצעי לתכלית-חיים מעשית, כבר נתנכר אליה. עבור המסור לה באמת, התורה היא התכלית!”

    The truth is that this is a footnote to his Maamar about Slabodka, where he says:

    מבקרינו השטחיים אוהבים להתריע בקולי קולות ובהנאה משונה על העוני ועל הדלות של בני הישיבות, על חיי הצער שהם מתגלגלים בהם ועל חיי עלומיהם הנובלים… אבל מי זה ימלל למבקרים האלה שבני הישיבות שמחים בחלקם ומתענגים על אורח חייהם, הם יושבים ועטרת שומרי היהדות בראשיהם ונהנים מזיו התורה ואינם זקוקים כלל לחמלה וחנינה מאת אלה הבאים להשתתף בצערם וגורמים להם בדבריהם וברחמיהם עלבון ומכאוב

  12. Dov Reifer says:

    R’ Beckerman, shlit’a:

    While you adequately quote Rav Moshe zt’l, the first line in R’ Moshe’s teshuva in Y”D 4:36:1 directly contradicts your premise. As I understand, in the opening sentence of the teshuva, Rav Moshe addresses how to handle a bochur who completed limudei chol in yeshiva ketana and wishes to pursue a degree outside of the yeshiva…Also, even assuming R’ Moshe “meant” to assur limudei chol in yeshiva ketana, it seems that Rav Moshe’s p’sak does not differentiate between yeshivos in E’Y and America. How then do you explain how many, if not most, of the yeshiva ketanas in America, including the “black” yeshivos – Telshe, Philly, Chaim Berlin, Ner Yisrael, include secular studies in their high school curriculum. As noted, Rav Moshe addressed leaving yeshiva to study a trade. Is R’ Slifkin advocating leaving yeshiva to study secular subjects, or introducing these subjects into yeshiva, as American yeshivas have done? In sum, it is a bit misleading to use Rav Moshe’s p’sak as the final arbiter on this topic, when it is well known that other rabbonim were not as strident with respect to including secular studies in yeshiva ketana.

    [DB: The question to RMF came from R’ Yosef Tendler of NIRC Mesivta, and that’s why the question is what at is. I haven’t seen anything else in RMF’s Teshuvos that would indicate why he opposed Yeshiva HS other than on the same grounds. I believe there are legal issues with not having secular studies at HS age in the US.]

    Quote, “It is agreed that a significant percentage of those in Yeshiva Ketanah will indeed become those who support themselves from within the Torah world.” Do you have any facts to prove this claim? What is meant by “support themselves”? Does this include relying on tzeddaka? Relying on the Israeli government? Additionally, “It is further agreed that about 50% of those who attend Yeshiva Ketanah do manage to crack the pre-academic tracks and go on to earn degrees.” Further, “It is further agreed that many Charedim who went to Yeshiva Ketanah do have jobs.” Thus, significant numbers of yeshiva ketana graduates support themselves, at least 50% earn degrees and many chareidim that attended Yeshiva Ketana have jobs. It appears then, based on your article, that most of the chareidim in E’Y work for a living. I would venture to guess that even the chareidim would disagree with this assumption.

    [DB: It’s not an assumption. It’s a fact. Most Charedi men work.]

    Quote, “The Mitzvah to support the Levi applies nowadays, as per Chinuch there, to those who study Torah and cannot take the time to earn their keep.” Who exactly fits in to the category of those who “cannot take the time to earn their keep?” How is this interpreted? Is the parnassa issue in E’Y defined as a “time” problem?

    The overwhelming majoirty of those both pro and con the chareidim readily admit that the chareidim in E’Y are facing economic disaster. This issue has been addressed, and continues to be addressed, in both the secular and chareidi press, blogs, and social media. As I understand, the debate is not whether the chareidim are under severe financial stress; charedim, chilonim, nearly everyone readily admits to this. Rather, the issues are focused on how to address chareidi poverty – either to continue in the status quo and endure, or to adapt to the current situation. Your article attempts to minimize the uncontested evidence of poverty in much of the chareidi sector. Halevai!!…but it is just not the case. Charedim who leave the bais medrash are shunned and scorned by chareidi society. Until this attitude changes, nothing will change.

  13. dr. bill says:

    Rabbi Beckerman: Thank you for your response to (some parts of) my comments at 9:43 am. I believe I do not have to respond further; for the most part, readers can evaluate the issues.

    However, wrt the Yerushalmi and Rabbeinu Bechayeh, I urge readers to study the original sources. I do not know the Yerushalmi well, but I think I would translate your quote of the Yerushalmi a bit differently. Wrt Rabbeinu Bechaya, note the comments by Rav Chavel ztl to the selection that I think you are citing, particularly his identification of a potential/likely source for Rabbeinu Bechayeh’s opinion. But regardless of how those sources are understood, as has been our tradition, our mimetic tradition and piskei halakha are valid sources, as opposed to maamarei chazal not quoted by Rambam, SA, etc. about which the circumstance is unknown.

  14. Harry Maryles says:

    Doron, what do you see as qualifying for support of Limud HaTorah? Let us say that a Yeshiva were established to say Kriyas Shema all day. As you know citing Pesukim from the Torah qualifies as Limud HaTorah no less then studying Gemarah with Rishoinim. Would we still be obligated to support them? Instead of they supporting themselves?

    If you say that there has to be a base level of Limud HaTorah beyond reciting Kriyas Shema, what should be that be?

    You talk about percentages. Is it really about percentages? Or quality? If there are people whose Limud HaTorah is not on the high level of the top tier should they be supported?

    If you say that it is not about quality but about Torah L’Shma, then those Yeshivos set up to say Kriyas Shema should be supported same as Brisk,Ponevich, Chevron, and Mir… as log as they are saying Kriyas Shema L’Shem Limud HaTorah L’Shma.

    [DB: Fulfilling Sidrei HaYeshivah. All Yeshivos have three Sedarim of actual learning.]

  15. Ben Waxman says:

    I’m not sure if this article is a plea for greater support from the non-yeshiva world or if it is an argument for greater government support (somehow translating tzeddaka into grants from the treasury ministry).

    [DB: Not less or more. Just a rejection of rejection of those who send to Yeshivah Ketanah.]

  16. Leah Adler says:

    Rav Nosson Tzvi Finkel had a secular high school education. It didn’t stop him from being a Rosh Yeshiva and a tzaddik.
    The Lubavitcher Rebbe attended the Sorbonne.
    I don’t think a little secular education (particularly through eighth grade) is going to ruin a great person from becoming great.
    The sitatuion here in Israel is extreme. Some elementary schools not only stop teaching math after sixth grade, never teacht he ABCs, and even ban the small kids from playing with balls at recess. When your attitude is to ban everything except Torah learning, you risk alienating those who connect to other things in this world.

    [DB: But RNTF sent his own children to YK.

    I agree that parents have to be attuned to their children’s needs. Some of the more extreme models are not my cup of tea.]

  17. Moshe Dick says:

    Rabbi Beckerman,
    They say that you can prove from statistics whatever you wish to prove. Similarly, you can prove from selected quotes from Seforim whatever you wish to prove. Yet, it is wholly disingenuous. Isn’t it ironic that everyone quotes the Rambam on shevet Levi (from hilchos shemita vejovel, mind you) to prove and support the present arrangement of kollel life, yet toally ignores and actually dismisses the Rambam in hilchos talmud torah (perek gimmel) that expressly prohibits to earn a living from one’s learning. The Rambam is a lot more vehement about that than he is about shevet levi and people who want to be like shevet levi. But then again, it does not fit the program, does it? Later acharonim (Kessef mishne and others) found reasons why to do unlike the Rambam but nowhere does any acharon suggest a similar arrangement to that which exists today in Eretz Yisroel. I would also suggest that you look what the Radvaz writes on that Rambam in hilchos shemitta vejovel, int might put a dent in your theories.
    The truth is that every sefer you may mention who supports today’s arrangement is of very new vintage- less that a century and most even less than that. You will not find any serious possek from before our era promoting the “kollel for life for eveyrone” arrangement- it has never been the norm in our history and is against virtually any halocho we have about life and learning.
    To prepare one’s children for the future starts early and if some secualar education is needed then so be it. You are also disingenuous in quoting Rav Jechiel Weinberg zz’l who was the Menahhel of the “Bais Hamedrash lerabbonim’ in Berlin- for goodness sake! – a place where they learned many more secular subjects than just mathematics and english. And similarly with R”S”R HIrsch, whose school in Frankfurt spent a lot more time on secular studies than on Torah.
    The plain fact is that the present chareidi system in Eretz Yisroel has never been successfully followed (see Berachos 35b) and it is only making more Jewish families poorer.

  18. Nachum says:

    “R’ Hirsch did allow for Torah-only among dedicated people.”

    Whether or not that’s true- and there’s a lot of revisionism out there about R’ Hirsch- your argument also fails because under the current system in Israel, there are no “dedicated” or “non-dedicated” people. There are people who were born into a certain community who are expected to learn-full time, and the rest, only a very small percentage of whom are.

  19. Ben Bradley says:

    The first quote from the Seridei Aish contains a few words which you appear to have ignored but which are vital. He says ‘withdrawing from these (secular) studies is only allowed for בעלי כשרון ושאר רוח who want to dedicate themselves to Torah’. The words ‘baalei kisharon u’sha’ar ruach’ mean those who have a particular aptitude and ability, not just a desire to learn. So he’s not talking about ‘people who are driven to dedicate themselves to Torah and service of Hashem’ per se as you suggest, rather people with discernible and pre-existing, higher than average, spiritual and intellectual abilities.
    So you’re right that R Hirsch allowed for it, but not just on the basis of personal desire as you state. It therefore can’t be the basis for a community model of chinuch. Not for R Hirsch, at least.

    [DB: Kishron means intellectual. She’ar Ruach is inspiration. Much of the second comes from Chinuch that this is the ideal, without distraction of competing aspirations.]

  20. Y. Ben-David says:

    Rav Beckerman-
    You apparently unwittlingly put your finger on the problem as the non-Haredi Israeli public sees it with this comment:
    This is what the Charedim train their kids to be – people who are driven to dedicate themselves to Torah and service of Hashem, willing to forgo a life of wealth and pleasure.

    It is precisely this “one size fits all” type of education that people outside the Haredi world don’t understand. It is OBVIOUS that not all children born into a Haredi family are cut out for this lifestyle, maybe even most aren’t…..yet those who aren’t are not given the tools to go out and achieve in other realms. Now, if the Haredi community is willing to take on itself the financial burder of carrying along those who are not really cut out for the Kollel lifestyle, I say more power to them, but the Israeli taxpayer is not willing nor is he obligated to.

    Regarding the comparison of the modern Kollel community with the biblical Levi’im, it should be pointed out that the Levi’im were given cities with fields around them and they were not expected to survive only on the contributions of Am Israel through Ma’aser Rishon. In addition these Levitical cities were scattered around Eretz Israel so that there should be close contact between them and the rest of Am Israel today. Today’s Haredi community is often geographically isolated in places like Kiryat Sefer, Betar Illit and even those who live in mixed cities tend to segregate themselves and the youth is taught to fear contact with those who are different, even other religious people. This is the reason which is repeated over and over and over why Haredi youth should be exempted from all forms of national service…because it is stated that contact with people different than them will cause they to give up their lifestyle…which is a frank admission of the ineffectiveness of the Haredi education system. While it is true that today’s Haredi youth have a very good knowledge of Halacha and they can tell you HOW to keep kosher, they will find it very difficult to explain to a non-religious Israeli WHY they should keep kosher, not really being able to articulate for themselves why they adhere to a Torah lifestyle, other than just saying that they were born into it. This seems to be a long distance away from what the Levi’im were designed to do in Biblical times, even though the challenges to Torah were not less formidable than they are today.

    [DB: The Abarbanel to Yehoshua says that the tribes worked the fields around the cities, not the Leviyim.

    There are many, many Avreichim working/volunteering for Lev LeAchim all over the country.]

  21. avrahan says:

    I am not sure of the wisdom of posting on this site as you did not respond to my key points and then included in your response to me a rant about Rabbi Slifkin and YCT rabbis – neither of whom I mentioned. The rule about the time limit in Slobodka had nothing to do with funders; not according to Rav Yaakov or my grandfather who both learned there and told me about it directly. The burden of proof is upon you to substantiate such a claim. More importantly you constantly ignore the essential issue. The present system in Israel is that everyone in the Charedi world is supposed to learn indefinitely or at least until they are old enough to avoid army service. The secular govt. provides the bulk of the support for this endeavor as does the rest of the Jewish community who must raise tzadakka to deal with the terrible poverty that results from this set up.

    Having spent years learning in top notch yeshivos and kollelim (don’t worry – I did not exceed the Slobodka time limit and have now been in avodas hakodesh for many than twenty five years giving back to the community) I can say that everyone knew rather quickly who would develop into serious talmedei chachomim. No one would object to supporting those individuals as they strive for gadlus; l’havdil every society does the same for doctoral candidates and the like. Those are your yechidim who have written wonderful seforim and are answering difficult questions. However, they are a small fraction of the myriad of people learning indefinitely in kollel on the backs of the both the Israeli populace and the rest of the frum community. Even after they leave yeshiva many of these same long time learners are engaged in menial jobs and are coming to my door – daily – for money for basic needs (let alone to marry off their children). If indeed the yeshivos would actually encourage people who are not cut out for full time learning – which is the overwhelming majority of people (as it has been through out history )- to go out and work and simply be koviah item l’torah then everyone would be happy and Torah scholarship would not suffer an iota.

    [DB: You have to prove that the problems have to do with a Yeshiva Ketanah education and not what happens after fifteen years of marriage. The explicit system is that people stay on in learning; there is tacit approval, after consultation, for people to go out and get jobs. Every year a person spends in learning gives him better tools in whatever education position he takes (you spent five years in Kollel and did not become R’ Yaakov Kamenetzky), and gives him greater spiritual wealth going forward.
    We have a fundamental disagreement here, I think. The purpose of Kollel is not solely to produce Gedolim, It is also for people who need the time to grow into whatever they can become and make the biggest contribution they can make to the Torah GDP. What percentage of the annual expenditures of the Jewish State do you feel should be spent toward supporting Torah study (of those who are fulfilling Sidrei HaYeshiva and Kollel) versus, say, the ministry of sports and culture?]

  22. Akiva Cohen says:

    R’ Beckerman,

    There seem to be a few problems with your post.

    First, with respect to the Levite issue, as others have pointed out, the source for the support was not that Levi’im sat and learned, but that they went out and taught. Regardless of whether learning in Kollel is a “selfish” act – rhetoric that really has no bearing on the issue – it is not the same as teaching. Indeed, if one were to quote the examples of the Tanna’im and Amora’im, we can see that there was no institutionalized practice of funding students’ studies, and that even the Tanna’im and Amora’im either had to work a trade for their livings or (in R’ Yehuda HaNasi’s case) be independently wealthy. So while the Shevet Levi point might have some bite in arguing for increased funding to support TEACHERS (including those emerging from kollelim), who too often have to struggle and wonder if they will receive their next paycheck, it isn’t really a support for funding kollelim for learners without regard to whether those learners will go out and teach to the wider Hamon Am.

    Second, I think it’s important to note two critical things about the Rav Moshe you quoted. First, the time at which Rav Moshe wrote that T’shuva presented an entirely different economic milieu than today. In those times, a high school diploma or GED was sufficient to provide entry to blue collar jobs that were more than enough to support a family – and some of those jobs were open even without those credentials. Today, that is no longer the case. As the economy has moved from manufacturing to service and information technology, a high school diploma is useful only in as much as it provides entrance to higher education.

    Which brings us to the second point – R’ Moshe’s focus on PREMATURELY concerning oneself with a future need for parnassa. There are several implications of this. First, that it is, in fact, important to concern oneself with parnassa at the right time, and that there is a right time to do so. Were that not the case, R’ Moshe would not have said “people who prematurely concern themselves with the future need for parnassah” – but “people who concern themselves with the need for parnassah.” Your argument thus ignores the fact that a time in which Avreichim are desperately struggling to take care of their families, where Avreichim (as heartbreakingly described by Mishpacha recently) are bringing their parents to dinei torah for support, and where the children of Avreichim are hungry all too often, is clearly that RIGHT time for concern with parnassa.

    Second, that prematurity is itself defined by necessity. Were it true that Avreichim could, as a rule, transition to working jobs sufficient to support their families without the secular education being advocated for, then your point would hold, and Rav Moshe’s psak would apply. But the financial state of the Israeli chareidi world makes clear that – happy outliers aside – that simply is not the case. Were it true that the current Chareidi educational approach was sufficient to enable Chareidi society to be self-supporting, this would be a non-issue. There would be no crisis of funding in the Chareidi world, the non-Chareidim would not be resentful (since the resentment arises from the need to increasingly fund a population that philosophically refuses to take steps necessary to enable it to be self-supporting) and few if any would be advocating for changing the Chareidi educational paradigm.

    Rachmana L’tzlan, that is not the case. The Chareidi world is not self-supporting, as currently constituted. One major reason for that is the inability of Chareidim to obtain the high paying jobs necessary to support large families, torah institutions, and non-working Avreichim. That inability is directly traceable to the lack of the secular education that, in today’s economy, is necessary to obtain such employment.

    In other words, in today’s economy, a high school education isn’t “prematurely” concerning oneself with parnassa, because waiting until later makes economic failure all but inevitable.

    • Doron Beckerman says:

      R’ Akiva,

      As for your first point – no. The Yerushalmi and Medrash Rabbah (and following them, the Chofetz Chaim) say that it applies to people who toil in Torah.

      On all other points – I’ll repeat this again. According to Machon Lev, 50% of those who are typically NOT in the top 15-20% of their Torah class crack the pre-academic tracks. That means that over 65-70% will NOT need it. This is nothing more than simple arithmetic. You have to determine who these 50% are and are not to have any sort of justification for touching YK. You have look at the back end, such as people staying in learning into their late thirties when it is hard for ANYONE to get a job. You further have to look at discrimination/difficulty in work environment.

  23. Marty Bluke says:

    Here is a quote from an article of R’ Aharon Lichtenstein on exemptions for yeshiva students (Tradition, Fall 1985) who presents a very compelling argument against draft exemptions, specifically against the use of the Rambam and Shevet Levi. The same arguments apply to financial support.

    Finally, even if we grant that the Rambam’s statement does imply a categorical dispensation in purely halachic terms, it remains of little practical significance. We have yet to examine just to whom it applies. A levi [sic] is defined genealogically. Those who are equated with him, however, literally or symbolically, are defined by spiritual qualities; and for these the Rambam sets a very high standard indeed. He present an idealized portrait of a selfless, atemporal, almost ethereal person – one whose spirit and intelligence have led him to divest himself of all worldly concerns and who has devoted himself “to stand before God, to serve Him, to worship Him, to know God; and he walks aright as the Lord has made him and he has cast off from his neck the yoke of the many considerations which men have sought.” To how large a segment of the Torah community – or, a fortiori, of any community – does this lofty typology apply? To two percent? Five Percent? Can anyone… confront a mirror and tell himself that he ought not to go to the army because he is kodesh kodashim, sanctum sanctorum, in the Rambam’s terms? Can anyone with even a touch of vanity or a concern for kavod contend this? Lest I be misunderstood, let me state clearly that I have no quarrel with economic aspiration or with normal human foibles per se. again, least of all do I wish to single out b’nei yeshivot for undeserved moral censure. I do feel, however, that those who would single themselves out for saintliness should examine their credentials by the proper standard

    In essence, RAL’s point is that requires a tremendous amount of hubris for a person to say that my learning is so important that I don’t need to go to the army and fight (or earn a living), especially when in many other areas the person doesn’t show such great faith (as RAL describes). It is very nice for a person to say that they are joining Shevet Levi, but who says that they were accepted?

  24. Marty Bluke says:

    “It is further agreed that many Charedim who went to Yeshiva Ketanah do have jobs. Granted, not extremely well-paying ones. but jobs: electricians, technicians, shopkeepers, clerks, bank tellers, security guards, cab drivers, bakers, real estate agents, moneychangers… In aggregate, many such jobs exist”

    Unfortunately, those jobs are going away because of technology. Blue collar jobs that require little education are dying out, more and more jobs are requiring higher education. In the last 20 years, Western economies (I am including Israel for this discussion), have shifted from manufacturing economies to service/knowledge economies. This has had profound effects on workers with little education. In my parents generation, blue collar workers could make a decent middle class wage and could provide for their family. Those types of jobs are gone today. Manufacturing jobs have moved to low wage countries like China, Vietnam, etc. and automation has eliminated thousands of jobs. On Chanuka, we took the kids on a tour of the Nesher cement factory in Ramle. The factory is huge (it is so big it has it’s own power plant) and produces all of Israel’s cement. We had to take a bus on the grounds to get around on the tour. And yet, this huge factory only employs some 250 people, many of them highly educated professionals. 50 years ago a plant like that would have provided thousands of jobs to blue collar workers. This trend is only increasing and will severely impact those who have little education (e.g. Yeshiva Ketana graduates).

  25. Jewish Observer says:

    “RNTF sent his own children to YK.”

    – I know a lot of rabbonim who feel just as trapped by the system as the rest of us do. You can’t prove that he disavowed his own background based on what he (or his wife, who never was exposed to his early Chicago culture) thought made the most sense for their own kids given their background, skills, particular needs, family heritage and cultural expectations. R Leizet Silver “sent” his son to YU but I don’t think it would be wise, or fair, to draw any hashkafic conclusions from that either

  26. Avraham says:

    Your last point is indeed the central point of disagreement. As the gemara says on numerus occassions – “puk chazi” let us go and see the reality. For thousands of years the model was combining working and learning (as did the tanaaim and amoraim) with the best proof being the story of Rabban Gamliel and Rav Yehoshua in Brachos 28a, until Rav Chaim Volohzin created the first full time learning yeshiva which was limited to the “best of the best”. In fact right before the Shoah the total number of yeshvia students in all of Europe was less than the amount presently learning in The Mir in Yerushalyim which meant that the system of Rav Chaim remained in place. There was an understanding that the overwhelming majority of people would support themselves and the push was to encourage all to engage daily in Talmud Torah. While one can debate how ideal life really was in Europe (and if the milkman really knew shas), as portrayed in Charedi circles it was the golden age for Orthodox Jewry. In other words the model worked.

    [DB: No, it didn’t. In fact it was so bad that God destroyed it. R’ Mordechai Zuckerman (a Talmid of the CC, who I suspect is actually in that video, by the way) said that before the Shoah Europe was spiritually bankrupt.]

    We now have a system in Israel that was originally designed to rebuild Torah due to the Churban but was never dreamed of – by either Ben gurion or the Chazan Ish – to reach the numbers it currently has and it does not work. American Charedim with educations and professions fill the batei medrash each evening in my community while their Isralei counterparts come begging and live in poverty without a clear indication (despite your examples of a few notable seforim) that the Israeli system is more successful in contributing to the Torah GDP. Sadly, it is the kollel yungeliet who can often be seen in the supermarkets during all hours of the day while their fellow Charedim are hard at work. Who is to judge if two hours of soild learning after a day of work is not more vlauble to HKBH, and the Torah GDP, than the guy who drifts in and out of seder all day without any standards or criteria to judge the quality or volume of his learning. (Walk the streets of Kollel communities such as Arzie Habirah and see what time yungeleit roll into davening and seder and you see how poor this system is for the masses.)

    [DB: Everyone seriously learning full time is contributing to the Torah GDP simply by doing so. Come around to where I learn and ask Ploni anywhere in Shas, Almoni any question in Lomdus, and Palmoni on whatever area of halachah you happen to be learning right now.]

    The idea that it is years of marriage rather than a terrible edcuation that causes people to be unable to work successfully after leaving Kollel is undermined by the succes of American Charedim – who receive some edcuation (thoese who don’t are often equally impoverished as I know ffrom helping the Chesed orginizations in town)- and the success of their Israeli RZ counterparts. There is sadly nothing needed to prove or study – the reality is right in front of us.

    [DB: Contradicts simple arithmetic. In fact, I’d like to know how the bottom 30% of Yeshiva Tichonit grads are faring.]

  27. Y. Ben-David says:

    Rav Beckerman-
    I was not aware of the Abarbanel on Yehoshua. The question is whether Don Yitzhak meant that Am Israel was supposed to supply free labor to the Levi’im in those fields (which would be comparable to the modern Israeli taxpayer providing income to Kollel people), or rather they were granted the fields in the same way the other tribes were granted the land they received and that other Benei Israel simply worked as hired hands in those fields, receiving a salary which the Levi’im paid out of the profits they earned from the produce of those fields. Also, it is reasonable to assume that some Levi’im worked as craftsmen in the towns (pottery makers, cobblers, metal workers, bakers, etc, etc) and they supplemented their Ma’aser Rishon income from that.

  28. Miriam Ellinson says:

    “Some of them, heroically, choose to stay poor and dedicate their lives to Torah.”
    In high school and seminary, I used to think poverty symbolized heroism. Now with a family of my own and living in Eretz Yisrael, I still think that living simply is holy, but I no longer believe poverty is holy. I and my husband – who learned for several years in kollel – both work very hard at skilled jobs. We live in a small apartment, make purchases sparingly, and offer our kids hand-me-downs from American cousins. BUT we have money for developmental therapy for our kids (most charedim don’t); we have money for minimal cleaning/babysitting help to ensure my emotional and physical well-being (most charedim don’t); we have money so that I can regularly take an exercise class and stay healthy (most charedim don’t); we have money for top-notch professional evaluations when necessary (most charedim don’t). I know this as someone living in a chareidi enclave for many years, and as a professional working in the Israeli school system. What no one is acknowledging is that financial stability is usually key to shalom bayis and mental health. It’s not about materialism; none of us are taking vacations or buying $3,000 wigs. But the fact that my husband had a secular education and can earn a decent living is the difference between a happy, stable family and a family torn apart by stress. I see the effects of that stress on a daily basis. Let’s differentiate between living spirituality-centered lives and living poverty-stricken lives. Being poor is not always heroic.

  29. Moshe Dick says:

    Dear Rabbi Beckerman!
    I tried very hard to give you the benefit of the doubt and carefully re-read all of your answers. What transpired glaringly is the paucity of anyone -any possek- previous to the most recent past who supports your position. You quote Rav Brevda, R’Moshe and other contemporaries. Where are the poskim of yore who support your positions?To quote a Nefesh Hachaim-not exactly a possek- or the Chofetz Chaim -in his aggadaic seforim- is not sufficient to overcome centuries of halachas and tradition. And it has been tried -see Berachos 35b-and found wanting as it is found wanting today,sadly. BTW-Rabbi Shimon be Jochai’s son was a tax collector and worked for a living.

  30. joel rich says:

    1. Arguing sources is perhaps necessary but ultimately imho in the category of being mocheh(objecting to the one sided use of sources), not to change the opponents mind as that has already been made up on a meta basis

    2.Imho the real issue with your approach from a risk/reward analysis, is that you ask the rest of society to take the risk you are wrong (and bear the burden of the huge generational cost associated with it) while retaining any gain for being right within your own community (at least as viewed by the rest of society)
    Joel Rich

  31. ChanaRachel says:

    As concerned as I am about the effects of the lack of any secular education on those who leave Kollel, I am much more worried about the effects of such ignorance on those who stay, and who are being groomed as the new generation of poskim and gedolim. With an 8th grade (or less) secular education, how will they be able to pasken on shabbat (understanding technology), Kashrut (basic chemistry), medical issues (basic knowledge of anatomy & physiology), monetary issues (knowledge of economics, banking, business practices), abuse (psychology, criminology) etc? Obviously, people with a high school (or college) education will not be expert in all these fields either; however,at least they will share enough of a language to engage in dialogue with the experts in a given field to obtain the information needed to weigh a halachic issue. I would not want someone with a 8th grade knowledge of how the world works ruling on the “heavy” issues of our day.

  32. Steve Brizel says:

    R Beckerman concluded:
    “In sum, before undertaking this battle, it must be firmly, virtually unequivocally established that it is unreasonable to expect to earn a living coming out of Yeshiva Ketanah, or at least to come up with a set of solid predictive factors.”

    If this excerpt represent the facts on the ground, the notion of a learner/earner being not just a bdieved but a lchatchilah and a need for real evidence of hakaras hatov expressed in a sense of mutual appreciation and awareness that they share a common destiny are crying needs that can and should be addressed in a nunaced manner. Intead of overheated rhetoric based on stereotypes and urban myths, the notion that everyone should sit and learn forever, is as equally out of kilter as the suggestion that everyone must serve in the IDF and be a college graduate.

  33. lacosta says:

    it would seem that the non-haredi [read MO ,DL, hiloni] world have decided not to put their tzedaka [or tax] dollars in haredi kollel enterprise ——unless someone contends otherwise.

    so, i wonder if this is just a question of a] where haredi donors should be putting their tzedaka dollars
    b] should non-haredim feel any guilt for not supporting these kollels
    c] is non-haredi attempt to ‘change the system’ just a manifestation of guilt for not buying into that system….

  34. dr. bill says:

    The debate rages on, sadly without resolution. I for one do not doubt the sincerity of those espousing the chareidi viewpoint. To understand the root cause requires practical familiarity with the distinction between halakhic and religious reasoning. 150 years after religious (as opposed to halakhic) chareidi reasoning began to emerge in non-chassidic circles, it is impossible for its proponents to reverse their course. (How it ends can be a very sad, slow but different issue; do not expect that its leaders/proponents suddenly seeing the light.) The responsa of Maharam Schick and others of that period should be read carefully in their historic context. Of course, this being the work of Prof. Katz zl and a number of of his students (oy -an academic!), it does not get the attention it deserves, certainly among the RW of orthodoxy. For a (perhaps) more acceptable view of the distinction between halakhic versus religious, Halakhic Man by the Rav ztl may help.

    A different but equally important contributor that attempts to explain how these century and one half old views grew (exponentially) in recent decades, was written 20+ years ago by a student of both the Rav and Prof. Katz.

    One impact of halakhic versus religious reasoning is that the halakha contains rules on how the non-observant (non-believers) should be treated. Sadly, those governed by religious reasoning, are not so bound; as a result, extremism can grow unabated. Being just “called” an apikores is rather mild.

  35. Doron Beckerman says:

    R’ Joel,

    The Charedim are not a handful of people anymore so that you can wage an ideological battle against them and expect to subdue them while leaving intact the fabric of society at large. As I’ve said here before, if society wants to accomplish something regarding these issues, it has to separate ideological lynchpins from sociological ills. Without convincing proof that Yeshiva Ketanah, *per se*, is a free-standing predictor of financial self-sufficiency, people (including the Charedi Leumi) are going to put it right in the category of the anti-religious bills that flooded the Knesset (which is exactly what MK Yoni Chetboun said with regard to the draft law), and will deem it Yehareg V’al Yaavor, V’ad Bichlal.

  36. aaron says:

    I disagree with Nosson Slifkins approach to defunding Mesiftas but I find your approach to be highly problematic.

    1) “where there is no need to establish High Schools (primarily because there is no risk that the children will otherwise attend public school) it is forbidden to establish them” – This psak – even if quoted correctly – was never accepted as practical Halacha. Rav Elya Svei ran a full and serious secular studies program in his Philadelphia Yeshiva even though the boys in his Yeshiva were not at risk of going to public school. The same can be said of Long Beach Yeshiva, Telshe Yeshiva and virtually every other mainstream Mesifta high school in America.

    [DB: I believe there is a legal problem in the US with not having secular studies at HS age. But regardless, I’m not quoting R’ Moshe as a psak of what should or should not happen in America, but as a/the basis for what goes on in EY.]

    2) While there is an obligation to support Shevet Levi where is the requirement to force every kid to be Shevet levi? Some boys cannot and are not interested in being Shevet Levi. How will they be educated to be responsible Zevuluns,Yehudas,Binyomins and Yosefs?

    [DB: The boys who are clearly not interested need to be guided elsewhere. At the same time, the Israeli Charedi model is to be mechaneich their children in the manner that I expect Shevet Levi was charged to educate their own. The ideal, with no competing aspirations in one’s youth, is to be steeped in Torah. Modeling Levi of their time, they are the stalwart guardians of the Torah. Recent experience bears this out. The Mizrachi party, who were originally the strong advocates for preserving the religious character of the State, have lost their way a bit in this regard. The only people who place the religious character of the State at the forefront of their agenda are the Charedim.]

    3) “It is agreed that a significant percentage of those in Yeshiva Ketanah will indeed become those who support themselves from within the Torah world. As Rabbeim, Rabbanim, Rashei Yeshiva, Mechabrei Sefarim, Mashgichei Kashrus, Toanim Rabbaniyim, Sofrim, Kiruv, and perhaps some others I’ve failed to mention” – Most of the professions mentioned above do not earn enough money for people to support themselves and their families even for those lucky enough to get such jobs. Most chinuch jobs available today are of the “second seder shoel umesheiv” variety that provide minimum sepuk and minimum financial stability.

    [DB: Those are entry-level jobs, yes. If you’re good, you move up. But what are you proposing – doing away with those jobs?]

    4)”The final Mishnah is Kiddushin states that one should teach his son an honest and easy trade’ – Honest is a key word because with large families and meager paying jobs many if not most must resort to shtick that is not honest to survive.

    [DB: Sadder yet, this isn’t a new phenomenon.]

  37. aaron says:

    ‘DB: I believe there is a legal problem in the US with not having secular studies at HS age.’ – There is no legal problem. Stamford Yeshiva never had secular studies and neither do most HS Yeshivas in Lakewood. The vast majority of Yeshiva HS do/did have secular studies including Rav Moshe and Rav Reuvain Feinstein’s very own Mesifta of Staten Island.

    [DB: OK. In the case of MTJ, it stands to reason then that this was the most Charedi framework that would have constituents. When it was established the American milieu was not ripe for Yeshiva Ketanah, as it is now in Lakewood.]

    “DB: The boys who are clearly not interested need to be guided elsewhere.’ – How and where? The Mizrachi experience is not really all that relevant to this issue because their Hashkafa differs from the Yeshiva world in many areas and not just regarding secular education.

    [DB: Maarava, Nehora, Mesivta of Beit Shemesh, Yishuv. But the great majority of the Charedi kids are banging on the doors of the premier Yeshivos. And, on the other hand, there’s no denying it – some go off.]

    Furthermore where is the evidence that Shevet Levi did not study secular wisdom? On the contrary secular wisdom can enhance ones understand of Torah and enable one to pasken correctly. A Kiruv professional who is ignorant of basic secular knowledge will have a hard time communicating effectively with college graduates. A Rov who lacks proper communication skills will be hampered in guiding his congregation. A Gadol who is not proficient in the sciences will be unable to address the burning questions and challenges of our day. (Our great Rishonim who would most definitely qualify as Shevet Levi, were clearly proficient in the secular wisdom of their time.)

    [DB: I have no problem with secular studies. I enjoy it. But Rema (YD 246:4) rules that it is permitted (other than for parnassah or dabbling) only after שמילא כרסו בבשר ויין והוא לידע איסור והיתר ודיני המצות. See also Menachos 99b. As I once heard Rav Hershel Schachter Shlit”a say, “Sure secular knowledge helps your understanding of Torah. After you know a billion Dinim like R’ Chaim Kanievsky!” If you consider the foremost Poskim of the past century of technological wonders, few if any had formal HS education.]

    DB: But what are you proposing – doing away with those jobs? – No I am not, I am just pointing out that many of those jobs are not really available to the masses (especially those that “aren’t so good”)and that they do not really “support themselves” with the education that they have received. It is therefore not really a viable option for many.

  38. SA says:

    Thank you Miriam Ellinson and thank you ChanaRachel for your comments.

    I just wanted to acknowledge them, in case nobody else does.

  39. Doron Beckerman says:

    I’ll just add one more thing. A major reason for the higher rates of poverty in the Charedi world relative to the other Jews (rather than Arabs) in the country is family size. It isn’t income from okay jobs that’s the problem so much as income per child. At the same time, what emerged from the recent debate between the heads of the medium-small Knesset parties. On the existential issue of demographics, there were three actual solutions (rather than centrist contours of what they’d give up to an imaginary partner): [1] A land deal with the Palestinians on ’67 border basis (Meretz); [2] Population transfers and unilateral relinquishing of land [Liberman]; [3] Aliyah and reproduction [Bennett]. If that’s the case, those religious people of right-wing politics (which includes the vast majority of them) view increased family size as vital to the country’s survival as a Jewish State.

  40. Leah Adler says:

    OK, the gedolim in their wisdom advocate sending kids to yeshiva ktana and preparing them for a life of Torah. And I am willing to concede that many go on to learn for many years and some even stay in klei kodesh, and it may be worth risking all the poverty and dysfunction of kollel life and underemployment among ex-kollel families in order to promote this ideal.
    But what about parents/boys who wish to go to a high school which gives 3 sedorim a day — and IN ADDITION – provides English and math? (Just like the schools in America). Why is this wrong for families which know their sons may need an option for parnossa in the future? Boys go from these high schools to fine yeshivas after high school. The difference is that they can then, somewhere down the line, more easily be trained for decent-paying jobs. This is what the masses want to hear answered. I don’t think telling us that this is our tradition works so well as an answer – nobody had a kollel tradition for the masses in 1000 years of Polish and German Jewish history, nor was this common in Iraq or Iran. Frum American Jews had high school educations and most continue to do so – at least, until 15 years ago, they did, and we don’t hear the gedolim saying this must be changed. Please answer.

    [DB: I’ll give you a pat answer and a practical one. The pat answer is that even formal study of English and math is too distracting; they need to put all their Kochos into the learning, and the Bein HaSedarim and Bein Hazemanim break is a break. (See the last part of RMF’s Teshuvah there about dabbling in secular studies during free time; he says it can’t be done if it will expend effort; not even during the Sedarim “HaReuyyim” even if not “Muchrachim”; and can’t be preoccupying in any way; in any of these cases it would diminish one’s efforts toward Torah study). But the practical answer is that for some children, I believe you’re right. That’s why I think having predictive studies – commissioned by Charedi Askanim as participants – based on aptitude, elementary school level, socio-economics, etc. vis-à-vis the likelihood of crossing the pre-academic track, plus education of parents as to the likely outcome of not taking math and English, might be a good idea. The practical outcome of those studies has to be determined in consultation with the Gedolim.]

  41. Leah Adler says:

    Thank you for your answer.
    If secular studies is too distracting, why don’t the gedolim ban it in America? Why are leading Roshei Yeshivas in America directing high schools that offer secular studies? Are there two Torahs, one for the Jews in Israel and one for the Americans? The Rosh Yeshiva in Long Beach, in Chaim Berlin, in Philly, in Passaic, and on and on, all oversee high schools with limudei chol. If this is wrong, why don’t they stop? And don’t say legally they have to give secular studies – the Amish don’t have to send their children to high school at all, that is American law – see Wisconsin v. Yoder, 406 U.S. 205 (1972) – and neither do we. Americans have secular studies because we are descended from immigrant Jews who valued secular education as a way to leave poverty and become middle-class.
    As for studies, I agree that we need information, and you are correct that any family with ten kids is going to struggle financially unless they are wealthy. But you don’t need to do studies to see what’s all around: the poverty is terrible, truly terrible – and children are suffering. We are frum black-hat Jews – our goal is not to corrupt Charedim, but to allow themselves to get parnossa tools so they can have food.

    [DB: I can’t speak for the RY in America; I can explain how I understand what’s going on here. I can say that there, the burgeoning Charedi campus model, which is geared to spoon feeding in the first year and getting them degrees afterwards, doesn’t exist in America.]

  42. Shira says:

    ‘…education of parents as to the likely outcome of not taking math and English’ (from your response to the previous comment)

    In your view, what *is* the likely outcome of not taking math and English?

    [DB: The sledgehammer answer I have now is that 65-70% won’t miss it. Give me a scalpel.]

  43. Shira says:

    Also, great comments by Miriam Ellinson, ChanaRachel, and Marty Bluke – especially his quote from Rav Aharon Lichtenstein. I would be particularly interested in hearing the author’s response to that.

    [DB: 1) If it is true that of a given population only 2% or 5% of it can reasonably expect to be granted that lofty status, it seems ludicrous that an entire Shevet Levi (let us say, 8500 from the ages of 30-50 as per Parshas Naso) is granted exemption because 170-425 members will actually qualify. RAL recognizes that this is a weak point and states that their exemption is ‘genealogical’. This fails to solve the problem, though. Why is there a geneaological blanket exemption for an entire Shevet when the reason for the exemption applies so scarcely?

    2) A yet stronger counter-argument to the genealogocial argument is that according to the commentary of the Netziv to Parshas VaYechi, the entire Shevet Yissachar availed themselves of this status to exempt themselves from fighting in the time of the Shoftim. Based on what? Did every single one of them look himself in the mirror and say that they are Kodesh Kodoshim?

    3) The numbers of Yeshiva boys who are learning seriously should not blind us to their inestimable value and stature in the eyes of the Ribbono Shel Olam.

    4) The vast majority, if not all, of Gedolei Torah in the Charedi, as well as many of the Gedolim of the RZ world (i.e. the Roshei Yeshiva of Mercaz Harav, Beit El, and other Yeshivot Gevohot) support not going to the army for many years after HS and their students serve in a far reduced capacity than their capabilities vis-a-vis combat. RAL is certainly a minority opinion among Gedolei HaRoshei Yeshivos.

    (Note: This has nothing to do with those who are not fulfilling paragraph 3. I’m talking about the many who do.)]

  44. Avraham says:

    I must apologize in advance if my comments in this post may appear to be a bit sarcastic but I find some of your editorial comments – Reb Doron – hard to swallow.

    Regarding the issue of Charedi Jewry pre-Shoah where I noted that the model worked you said:[DB: No, it didn’t. In fact it was so bad that God destroyed it. R’ Mordechai Zuckerman (a Talmid of the CC, who I suspect is actually in that video, by the way) said that before the Shoah Europe was spiritually bankrupt.]

    I find this amazing. For fifty years I have heard all the great Roshei Yeshivas and Rebbes describe how spiritually wonderful life was in Europe (even speakers who never lived in Europe are wistful) and I now I discover that they were all mistaken. You can not make that claim on behalf of the Charedi community with a straight face. What Rav Zuckerman may have meant was the level of the larger Jewish community was low – a claim that has been suggested many times often with very ominous overtones (as when Rav Hutner claimed, with great controversy, that this caused the Shoah) – but to suggest that the Charedi world beieved that their community was not at a high level of ruchniyos in pre-war Europe contradicts Rav Aharon Kotler and numerous other gedolim. As such, the idea that we need a new model in Israel does not match the rhetoric of all those who wished to recreate the community that we had.

    [DB: You said the *Orthodox* community, which was in a steep downward slide. Rav Shach was the elter bachur for R’ Michel Feinstein, and he encouraged him to quit smoking. Not for health reasons, but because chances were that he would not be Shomer Shabbos, so that was a few less melachos on Shabbos.
    If you want to talk about poverty in shtetl life – you can go first.]

    Then regarding the nature of learning going on in Kollelim you said: [DB: Everyone seriously learning full time is contributing to the Torah GDP simply by doing so. Come around to where I learn and ask Ploni anywhere in Shas, Almoni any question in Lomdus, and Palmoni on whatever area of halachah you happen to be learning right now ].

    Once again, I am amazed. You have been arguing that we need to do studies to determine why Charedim are ill equipped to find jobs (rather than rely on the simplest logical explanation) and you counter my point by an anectodal observation that there are knowledgable people where you learn. Using that logic I will point you in the direction of Alon Shvut which is a wonderful RZ community where the boys serve in the army, the girls go to Sherut Leumi, people are college educated, and there are men and women regualrly finishing shas. I guess that is a clear proof that this is the path that all of Klal Yisrael should follow.

    I have no doubt that you learn in a wonderful bais midrash but that does not mean that this is the norm for the thousands upon thousands of young men who are forced into a life style that likely does not suit them and is inconsistent with our mesorah.

    [DB: I have respect for the Yirei Shamayim wherever they are. But don’t make it out like the system produces nothing but loafers in Arzei HaBirah. And no, the obvious answer does not lie in Yeshiva Ketanah.

    Also, in terms of Mesorah, allow me to quote the Bircas Avraham (Torah UTefillah, pg. 194):
    והיה פשוט בכל הדורות שאין מלמדים לבנים אלא תורה, דהיינו סדר הלימוד לרבים במקרא ומשנה וגמרא להיות בקיאים בש”ס, ואן לנו שום סעיף בשולחן ערוך או בפוסקים להכניס לימודים אחרים, גם מה שמועיל לאדם לפרנסתו.

    ומדברי הפוסקים והנהגת הדורות אנו רואים שלא דאגו בסדר הלימוד לרבים על ענין פרנסה ואומנות אלא זה נמסר ליחידים אחרי שלמדו מקרא ומשנה וגמרא, לפי צורך המקום והזמן, ובהתיעצות עם רבותיו, שלמד אומנות לצורך פרנסה או דרכי מסחר במידת ההכרח…

    ומה שנתפשט בהרבה מקומות שמלמדים הבנים לימודי חול הוא מזמן שתנועת ההשכלה נתפשטה וקלקלה הרוח הקדושה שהיו תמיד בכלל ישראל והחריבו בנים רבים וטובים לנתקם מאמונתינו ומצותינו והציבור המושפע מזה לא רצו ללמדם כדין וכנהוג מדור דור. גם בהרבה מקומות היו חוקי הממשלה גורמים שלא יכלו לעמוד בסדר הזה, ולכן היה פריצת גדר בסדר הלימוד ויש רבנים שנתנו יד להציל מה שניתן להציל ולטכס עצה להרבות תורה כמה שאפשר במקום שהיה עת לעשות לה’. אבל לעולם דעת גדולי הדורות לעמוד על המשמר ללמד הבנים רק לימודי קודש, ובידינו הרבה כרוזים מגדולי האחרונים בענין זה]

  45. Eli Blum says:

    “That’s why I think having predictive studies – commissioned by Charedi Askanim as participants – based on aptitude, elementary school level, socio-economics, etc. vis-à-vis the likelihood of crossing the pre-academic track, plus education of parents as to the likely outcome of not taking math and English, might be a good idea. The practical outcome of those studies has to be determined in consultation with the Gedolim.”

    Hooray!! Being that this week is Purim, let’s drink to this small step and call it a day 🙂

    P.S. I’m not sure if you are arguing for only Gemorah type studies during high school (which certainly can work, it just needs catch-up and preparation when the resulting student needs a job), or funding for Avraichim (which as you and the Chofetz Chaim point out, should only go to serious (Muflag) Amolim (These may not be Avraichim at all, and may even be Baal HaBatim (as I have seen)). If so, unless you live at Lake Wobegon (and not Eretz Yisroel), 95% to 99% (depending if you define excellence (muflag) as two or three standard deviations from the mean) of all kollel men are not included.

    Finally, if the Charaidi Tzibbur would embrace the pre-job preparation programs that exist, I believe you would have a better case for Mesivtos/Yeshivos Ketanos.

    [DB: The post was about not giving funding to all those who send to YK because that is a lack of taking responsibility for their kids. I reject that.

    I’ll have to see the muflag inside; I’ve cited the Torah Ohr (and Yerushalmi and Medrash Tanchuma) that say merely Ameilei Torah. And feel free to pick whichever Avereich you want.

    To embrace the pre-job programs, there’s a hurdle to cross – the army. And to all commenters – I’m not getting into that discussion now.]

  46. Nachum Boehm says:

    Rabbi Beckerman: I am not aware of any Gadol giving permission to conduct “studies” as to whether there is a corelation between higher education and income, for the purpose of determing whether secular studies should be introduced to the Chareidi curriculum. In fact, based on everything they have said in the past, they are against secular studies for most Chareidim, period, full stop.I never heard Rav Steinman say that he will reserve judgment until further studies have been conducted.

    Perhaps you are advocating a position that is not sanctioned by the Gedolim?

    [DB: That is the explicit line. If we could establish reliable predictive guidelines that boys of type X and Y, who cannot reasonably expect to cross the pre-academics, need some basic tools to be able to live, let’s see what happens.]

  47. Elle says:

    I think a major problem with the comparison between Levi’im and Kollel is the tangible benefit to the population. From what I’ve read, the Levi’im were out there, educating the populace, and working in the Bais Hamikdash. Those were valuable public services, which deserve renumeration.

    From what I have seen of Kollel, it is a society that is fairly walled off from the rest of Judaism. The attitude seems to be “Give us money, demand from us nothing and be grateful for it.” They disdain everything about modern society, but demand support from others.

    Not only is this an economic crisis but it is a spiritual one. I once spoke to a young Israeli who had just left the army and was touring around New York. When I invited him for Shabbat, he bristled and said he hated religious people. “Why don’t they come and visit injured soldiers? I had a friend who was injured and scared for his life. Why didn’t one of those holy people come and pray with him? Comfort him? Fine, they don’t want to carry a gun, but why aren’t they there for other Jews? Why aren’t they visiting elderly old people who aren’t religious? Why aren’t they doing more?”

    You might bring examples of how they are helping, but for many Jews, all they see is takers and not givers. So, why not make the kollel people more like the Levi’im and have them take on more community building works? If they weren’t seen as a separate part of the people, maybe people might want to help them more?

    Maybe the Kollel world needs to do some better PR.

  48. lacosta says:

    can it be acknowledged at least that most of the religious non-haredim who advocate changes are not doing it because they hate the haredi way of life, or is that really the core of suspicion?

    because i would like to think that those who mamash are anti don’t support haredi causes financially in any way ; and those chiming in are rather people pained by the poverty burden they see daily [ for i think it’s safe to say that 90% of collectors represent either the israeli or american haredi/hassidic sector] and donate to…

  49. Aaron says:

    “DB: OK. In the case of MTJ, it stands to reason then that this was the most Charedi framework that would have constituents” The Staten Island branch always catered to a pretty Yeshivishah crowd and always had secular studies. Furthermore, if it is really assur then why do they still have secular studies today when clearly public school is not an option for their talmidim.

    “DB: Maarava, Nehora, Mesivta of Beit Shemesh, Yishuv.” – You are being disingenuous here. I am sure you know that Rav Shach fought Maarava tooth and nail and most mainstream Chareidi parents would never contemplate sending their children there. Much the same for the rest of the list.

    [DB: And the bottom line was that he had to take it out of Yerushalayim and not accept those who were considering YK. Those were the guidelines of Rav Shach himself.]

    “DB: As I once heard Rav Hershel Schachter Shlit”a say, “Sure secular knowledge helps your understanding of Torah. After you know a billion Dinim like R’ Chaim Kanievsky!” – Rav Herschel Schechter himself does not have the bekius of R’Chaim and yet is quiteproficient in secular studies. A Kiruv professional, Rov, Kashrus proffesional or posek will need to have some secular knowledge even before he has learned “a billion dinim” in order to do his job properly. It is specious to argue that “sure I support learning secular studies but only after one has mastered the entire Torah, and being that it is virtually impossible to master the entire Torah it is never correct to study secular wisdom”. The Rambam in Pirush Hamishan clearly states that the study of secular wisdom that enhances ones understanding of Torah or sharpens ones mind is an admirable pursuit. Furthermore, while intensive exposure to secular wisdom might be best left to ones post HS days if one does not acquire the basic skills of language and mathematics the areas of secular chochmoh will be inaccessible to him later in life.

    [DB: It is proper, but not on the Cheshbon of proficiency in Torah itself. In terms of language and math, I’ll say it one more time – according to Machon Lev, half of those who don’t study those things in their HS years do fine in their pre-academic. (And, by the way, I would like to know what they say in Kiryat Ono and other places.)]

  50. Eliezer says:

    R’ Beckerman,

    You wrote that:

    “But the practical answer is that for some children, I believe you’re right. That’s why I think having predictive studies – commissioned by Charedi Askanim as participants – based on aptitude, elementary school level, socio-economics, etc. vis-à-vis the likelihood of crossing the pre-academic track, plus education of parents as to the likely outcome of not taking math and English, might be a good idea. The practical outcome of those studies has to be determined in consultation with the Gedolim.]”

    Given that R’ Shteinman shlit”a has been quoted recently as saying that opening schools with secular studies “will destroy eretz yisrael”, how much room do you believe there is for change within the chareidi community in the direction you are suggesting? Or how about the recent virulent and widespread condemnation of Yeshiva Chachmei Lev – would you like to see that attitude change?

    [DB: As I understand it, he means that giving the impression that non-YK is an equally valid option would destroy it.]

  51. Eli Blum says:

    “I’ll have to see the muflag inside; ” It’s available online, I posted the link above.

  52. Steve Brizel says:

    Aaron-try sitting in on RHS’s shiurim either in RIETs or listening to any of his myriad shiurim on any aspect of Shas and Poskim that can be downloaded at YU Torah. then perhaps you can comment on RHS’s Gadlus BaTorah.

  53. Z says:

    RE: “[DB: 1) If it is true that of a given population only 2% or 5% of it can reasonably expect to be granted that lofty status, it seems ludicrous that an entire Shevet Levi (let us say, 8500 from the ages of 30-50 as per Parshas Naso) is granted exemption because 170-425 members will actually qualify…]

    This is a straw man argument. The public funding and military exemption of Shevet Levi had nothing to their full-time learning to develop lofty ‘Gedolim’ — there is no indication that the Zkeinim were predominently of Shevet Levi, and neither were Anshei Knesset Hagedola, the Tanaim, etc.

    As desirable as it is to picture Shevet Levi as a tribe full of full-time learners, their function was clearly much more akin to a civil service, albeit a religiously-minded and ordained civil service. There would have been a wide variety of jobs that could be matched to the skills, aptitudes and interests of any specific Levite. I’m sure some were better/harder workers than others, just like the (mostly) farmers in the rest of the tribes.

  54. aaron says:

    Sefer Habris:

    ויותר חרה לי על תלמידי חכמים שלא רוצים ללמד לבניהם אומנות רק תורה לבד וסומכים
    עצמם שבניהם יהיו רבנים ודיינים, ולא רבים יחכמו בתורה עד שיגיעו להיות מורה הוראות
    בישראל ונשארים קרח מכאן וקרח מכאן ונעשים מלמדי תינוקות, ומשרבו בעלי זאת הדעת
    רבו המלמדים יותר מן התלמידים ועל כן אינם מגיעים לחצי פרנסתם ובביתם אין לחם ואין
    שמלה ואינם יכולים לעסוק ע”י זה במלאכתם מלאכת הקודש באמונה

    והנה האבות עשו זה לשם שמים וסמכו עצמן על דעת ר’ נהוראי שאמר )בפרק בתרא
    דקידושין( מניח אני כל אומנות שבעולם ואיני מלמד את בני אלא תורה ולא יבינו כי זה הוא
    מעשה יצר הרע כדרכו להלביש ולכסות הדברים אשר לא טובים בכסות החסידות ועל כל
    פשעים יכסה אהבה ויראת ה’ ויראה אליו פנים לשם שמים ,ולא ידעו שאין זה דעת ר’ נהוראי
    כלל כמו שכתב המהרש”א ז”ל, שאין דעת ר ‘נהוראי שיניח אדם מללמד את בנו כל אומנות
    לגמרי אלא תורה בלבד שהרי אמרינן בפרק קמא שחייב כל אב ללמד את בנו אומנות וליכא
    מאן דפליג, ושנינו ג”כ )בפרק ג’ דאבות( כל תורה שאין עמה מלאכה סופה בטלה וגוררת עון,
    אבל הכי קאמר מניח אני הקביעות של כל האומנות ואני מלמדו תורה בקביעות, ואומנות
    עראי, וזה שאמר שהאומנות אינו עומד לאדם אלא בילדותו שאז הוא בכחו לקבוע לו אומנות
    כבדה אבל כשבא לימי זקנה או חולי אינו יכול לעשות מלאכה כל כך כדי פרנסתו אבל התורה
    אינו כן דע”י התורה המלאכה נקיה וקלה שיכול לעשות גם בימי זקנה מתברכת לו וזה וזה
    נתקיים בידו כהך דחסידים הראשונים בברכות עכ”ל .ואף גם מי שיש לו פרנסה ע”י התורה
    אינו מתעשר לעולם עי”ז רק נוטל חייו מן העולם, כמו שאמרו חז”ל )בפרק ד’ דאבות(
    ודאשתמש בתגא חלף, הא למדת כל הנהנה מדברי תורה נוטל חייו מן העולם:

    בלי ספק שכל העובר על דברי חכמינו ז”ל בדבר הזה ואינו מלמד את בנו אומנות עתיד ליתן
    את הדין לפני ב”ד של מעלה וענוש יענש, גם ענוש לצדיק אשר יעשה כזאת לבניו לש”ש

  55. aaron says:

    Steve Brizel – I am not sure what your issue is. I have utmost respect for Rav Schechter and I have listened to many of his shiurim. My point is only that the quote that Rabbi Bekerman attributes to him does not jive with the reality of the situation. Rav Schechter does not have the bekius of Rav Chaim Kanievsky – nobody does – obviously he does not hold that only someone with knowledge of “billions of halachos” can study secular studies.

  56. Doron Beckerman says:

    R’ Eli,

    The link is to a letter from the Chofetz Chaim, in which he is not talking about Maaser per se, but general allocation. He states that half should go to supporting Torah and the other half to chessed. In the Torah half, he includes Talmudei Torah, Yeshivos, and Avreichim Muflagei Torah. Arguably, he means Avreichim who learn a lot of Torah, not necessarily the cream of the cream intellectually. Moreover, in the same letter he says that supporting Torah can also count for the chessed half.

    At the bottom line, in Ahavas Chessed (which is the CC’s halachah Sefer on this matter) – in 2:19:1, he states simply Ameilei Torah with regard to Maaser, and proves this from the Medrash Tanchuma (as well as two other, later sources). He adds, however, that since people use their Maaser money (for which the primary address is indeed the Ameilei Torah) to fulfill their overarching mitzvah of tzedakah, the dinei kedimah for tzedakah apply, so impoverished relatives come first. But see the footnote there.

  57. Eli Blum says:

    R’ Doron: I’m willing to give you that it is possible that Amailus means effort and not intellectual ability.

    As far as the Ahavas Chessed is concerned, all he says is once you are giving to Aniyim, a Talmid Chochom goes before an Am Haaretz. This is not a Chiddush, and is offen a Shulchan Aruch YD 251:9 (as the CC references the Siman). However, there are other Dinei Kedimah that come before Anyim (and therefore before a Talmid Chochom Ani). An obvious example is in YD 252, regarding Pidyon Shevoyim, or YD 249:15, regarding Hachnosas Kallah of Aniyos Yesomos (Ayin Shach). Another example is YD 249:16, where the Shulchan Aruch says that giving to a Shul goes before Anyim (Tha Gaon seems to argue), and giving for “Naarim” to learn (including Chinuch Atzmai and tuition scholarships) and to Aniyim who are sick (and will not be taken care of without your funds, see the Gaon quoting the Tashbetz there) goes even before a Shul, and certainly before regular Aniyim (of which Amalei Torah get Kadimah).

    So I’m not seeing the Chiddush you are bringing from the Chofetz Chaim in Ahavas Chessed.

    [DB: Just that he says Ameilei Torah. The added verbiage was just to fill out the picture of what he says there Lemaaseh.]

  58. Pusilanimity says:

    חובות הלבבות הקדמה
    ראיתי לחתום פתיחת הספר הזה במשל נאה יזרז אותך לעמוד על עניניו ויעירך לדעת מעלת המין הזה מן המצוות משאריתן ומעלת שאר החכמות הטבעיות והמוסריות והדבריות מחכמת התורה והבינהו בקראך אותו והשיבהו ברעיוניך תמצא מה שאתה חפץ בעזרת השם

    ויעזר על השתמשו בכל א’ מהם בחכמת השמוש ובחכמת המופת ובחכמת הדבור שמהם תהיינה ההקדמות לחכמה האלהית כי מי שאינו בקי בהם אינו מכיר סמני חכמת הבורא בבריאותיו ולא ידע עניני גופו כל שכן זולתו

  59. Ellen Lebowicz says:

    Thank you, SA, for acknowledging the few women who commented. Granted, most of us are unable to contribute to a discussion which largely references works that we haven’t learned. But many of us are in the trenches as mothers, grandmothers, and intuitive observers of systems, be it in America or Eretz Yisroel, and we see the daily fallout of a system that continues to push the emphasis on gadlus b’Torah, and as mentioned previously, probably only 2-5% are going to achieve that status. But since frum society, or at least the party line, de-values educational programs leading to earning, there is tremendous peer pressure on parents to push children into a niche many will not be able to maintain. That results frequently in children who don’t value themselves, parents who believe they’ve failed, and maybe even a “shidduch crisis” for girls who have been lead to believe that true happiness is available to them only through being married to a kollel boy. I realize this discussion is about Eretz Yisroel, and I’m looking at it through an American (and, may I say it, possibly just a female perspective), but peer pressure is peer pressure, so when, as I’ve read, an Israeli avreich took on the job of being a rebbe, and his children were subsequently barred from attending their cheder because the father had become an earner, in a society such as that, how can movement be made without some form of intervention? Unfortunately, a couple of the options for children who are not making it are to earn and be looked down on, or to go off the derech. Just a female perspective (with the wisdom and hindsight of a mother and grandmother and some secular knowledge). I hope this adds to the discussion.

  60. mycroft says:

    . “Rav Schechter does not have the bekius of Rav Chaim Kanievsky – nobody does “–

    Full disclosure I have never met Rav Kanievsky-I’ve had the pleasure of listening to at least occasional shiurim by RHS for close to half a century-I assume neither of us are qualified to judge the relative bekius of the two great talmeidei chachamim. I would not want to wager against RHS in any contest of bekius.

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