Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Critics Rave!

So far, my recent post about Classes of Dependency has brought in 7 comments. That happens to be about 6.5 comments above my average. Some of them are quite passionate, deep-seated thoughts and are clearly worthy of a response. As such, I will print excerpts from a number of them and insert my responses.

Here goes:


Not Brisk said...

>>I think the people mentioned in your article are well intended and it is not fair to label them.

The only labels I use in my post are: Chareidi and non-Chareidi. I applied the “non-chareidi” label to Rabbi Maryles as he himself considers himself non-chareidi. I did not apply any label to Rabbi Wein. In fact, I am generally a “chossid” of Rabbi Wein (as I wrote in the Acknowledgements in my book). In this particular issue, I think he slipped up. That’s my opinion and I am entitled to it.

>>Rabbi Marlyes is not against yegiyah, rather is pro having a side alternative. He is trying to emulate his great Rebbi in being miyeageyah in in learning while having other interests.

Believe it or not, I am also pro having a side alternative. On this we concur. What Rabbi Maryles goes on to do is to rile against other folks those who do not pursue “side alternatives” and he claims that they are out of line. Rabbi Maryles is not against yegiyah per se, but he is against yegiyah if it involves “dependency”. On this we differ. My position is that this is mandated in our tradition and he has no place bashing it.


Dov said...

>>You're unable to consider that the poverty that's being created might not be ratzon Hashem?

We are not discussing poverty, we are discussing “dependency”.

>>The real simple question is: Is this poverty truly ratzon Hashem? Does Hashem want us to be mesader the world with such a high number of ani'im?

Of course not. Hashem wants us to make the Kollel checks bigger!

>>Does Hashem truly want so many people to be demeaning themselves by collecting door to door? Or might it be that we're supposed to realize that this is something that needs to be fixed?

You need to read the post again.


Anonymous said...

>>The current kolel/yeshiva phenomenon is a new one that hasn't existed ever (to compare it to the kohanim, which is a birthright, is comparing apples and oranges).

My comparison was more to the Leviim and it comes from the Rambam. Did you look it up?

>>Traditionally the top learners would learn for as long as was sustainable with everyone else going to work.

That’s pretty much what happens today.

>>This makes sense as torah scholarship is part and parcel to our existence. But nowadays every joe-shmo bochur is being encouraged to learn in kolel regardless of his aptitude, skill, and motivation. This is where the problem really lies, and considering that the entrance exams to most yeshivas are fairly easy and the accountability (at least in the larger yeshivas) is fairly low makes for a wasteful inefficient kollel system.

I disagree. The joe-shmos usually move on to something else (business, chinuch, kiruv…) within 5-10 years (relative to their aptitude) and only the creme de la creme stays longer.

>>That being said up until 300-400 years ago (even more recently) most jews worked and not just b'dieved.

Just like now.

>>The taanaim and amoraim had professions and so did great rabbinic figures such as the rambam, and the ramban, and rashi and pretty much every one else.

I have heard this ad nauseum. It is essentially untrue. Most Tannaim and Amoraim and the great Rabbinical figures plus almost any Gadol you can think of over the previous 20 generations were all Torasam Umnasam. The difference is that in previous generations the concept of Torasam Umnasam could be had at a lesser scale of “dependency” than today because of social economic conditions (one example – until the last 50 years there was no such thing as day schools so there was no such thing as day school tuitions crippling families).

I dealt with this about a year ago in this post: http://achaslmaala.blogspot.com/2008/09/poorer-than-hillel.html


Harry Maryles said...

>>This most insulting post is benath both you ....and contempt.

Now, let me get this straight. You attack the “Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai” oriented community. I defend it. And my post is beneath contempt?? Can you explain why?

>>And it is proof postive thta youb have no clue about me

I wouldn’t be so quick to say that. Though I have seen you many times, I don’t think I ever spoke with you. I am much better acquainted with Jack and Barry and their kids. Incidentally, I have Brenda’s name (Breindel bas Miriam) on my Refaenu list.

>>and even less about Rabbi Wein.

Him I have spoken with.

>>What makes you think I don't support learning in Kolel?

I am sure you support learning in Kollel, but it is learning in Kollel by your standards and stipulations. What we call here: b’eravon mugbal.

>>Because I don't think it is ethical to abuse a gov't program?! ...even if it is technically legal?

No. It is because you think that the remedy for it needs to be undertaken by the Kollelniks in the form of advanced secular education that compromises the learning as opposed to campaigning for more Torah support (that people like you and me would have to undertake) to ensure that a young Kollel guy can subsist on a Kollel wage and not need government assistance. It’s what I wrote in my post but you haven’t addressed anything besides that it’s beneath contempt.

>>My son nort onlhy learns all day buirt riuns a night kollel with my full support!

I am sure you are very proud of him. I am also sure that this is not what you directed him to do when he was growing up.

>>NOr is my admontion that the kollel system has turned into a depenmdancy a rayah that I am opposed to kollel.

It hasn’t turned into a dependency. It has always been one. It is meant to be one. That’s the idea. The guy sits and learns and the community supports him. If you are against that, then you are against Kollel.

>>What I am opposed to is the brianwashing that gies on that indoctrinates every human Jewish male that he must strive to learn in Kollel no matter what and that if he doesn't he is a sub human being.

That’s not what you wrote about in your post.

>>It was not the entirelty of the Beni Yisroel that was made into a dependancy class. it was Shevet Levi. q1/12th of its population. If we get back to those numbers I would have no problem supportin g it.

Let’s see now. There are about 12M Jews in the world. About 5.5M live in EY. Of those, 2.75M are men. Let us assume that 1.75M of them are adults. So we have 1.75M adult Jewish men living in EY and each and every one of them is obligated in Ameilus B’Torah like you and me.

Now you mentioned 60,000 Kollel students. That comes to 0.034 or 1/30 of the population. Doesn't seem to be 1/12 . The proportion is even lower in Chu"l. It also means that 1.69M male Jewish adult householders are not learning full time (mostly not at all). S-o-o, if they give 10% of their income to the community there is 169K full incomes to cover all 60000 Kollel guys with 109K change for mosdos.

>>In fact if we conmtinued to rasie the same number of dollars - or even half that number to support yungelite, they would have more tghan enough to live a quite normal middle class lifestytle.

>>One of your problems is that you think your occasional sense of humor substitues for rational responses. I fully expect one here. But I will not be fooled by it.You sir hvae been brainwahsed right along with the 60 thousand Avrreichim in Israel most of whom should be getting jobs.

I thought you said you are not against Kollel?!?

>> I wonder what percntage of all Charedim - (...you know - Charedim - the only real Jews) - that is?

>>If I ever had any respect for you - it is now gone.

Did you?


Anonymous said...

>>I think the problem is that nowadays in Israel the only acceptable option for a "serious" bochur getting married is to learn in kollel "indefinitely" - otherwise he will never find a decent girl from a good haredi family. And the only option for a "serious" haredi girl out of beis yakov is to want a boy who is planning to learn in kollel indefinitely. HOWEVER...

You are bringing up some valid points about who should or shouldn't be in Kollel. I also believe that if a person is not l'shma, he should not be in Kollel. Nevertheless, this is a different discussion than the issue of a "dependancy class" and, though worth discussing, it is for another occasion.


Ahavah Gayle said...

>>The Cohanim in Biblical times had towns where they ran shops and businesses and the fields around those towns where they farmed. They only performed two weeks of regular service a year, plus mandatory service for all at the time of the festivals, if I recall correctly. That means they only served at the Temple about 6 weeks out of the year and spent the rest of the year, that would be 46 weeks, working in their businesses and farms. That's not hardly the same as the kollelniks, who do nothing at all to support their families, ever.

It looks like you are taking what can be considered facts and mixing them with what cannot be considered facts.

These parts are facts:

The Leviim (not Kohanim though they may be included) received 48 towns from the other Shvattim. There was a certain amount of land surrounding the towns that could be used for farming (sadot v’kramim). The Kohanim and leviim were only on duty for 2-4 weeks over the year.

This much, and only this much of what you wrote is fact. Everything after this amounts to logical assumptions (conjecture) which, though undoubtedly logical, have no basis as facts. Yes, towns do require shops and businesses. Yes, farming land can produce income. Yes, the kohanim and leviim only served for 2-4 weks per year so there was ample time to engage in other endeavors. And from here, you go on to assert as fact that, as a rule, they engaged in enterprise.

Is this so? Perhaps, but:

1) There is nothing written in Torah literature to substantiate this assertion.

2) The Kohanim and Leviim had a second calling: To study and teach Torah as I mentioned in my post from Devarim 33:10. Add to this Malachai 2:6-8. This is confirmed in Rambam Shmitta V’Yovel 13:12. This side job goes for 365 days/year.

3) The Matanos of Kehuna and Leviiah in effect 365 days/ year and every single Kohen and Levi was entitled to it all 365 days, even those permanently disqualified from Temple service.

4) The pasuk in Devarim 14:27 and 14:29 (and other sources that I will not hunt down) clearly implies that, as a rule, the Levi is expected to be needy.

As such, the conclusion that I reach is that for many Leviim there were indeed opportunities for local business and farming and some did indeed capitalize on it as do many chareidim today. But many more chose to devote their lives totally to Avodas Hashem and did not compromise it with personal labor as many chareidim do today. This procedure seems to have full sanction from the Torah and Halacha and is fully justified.

Bottom line is that what goes on now is a lot like what went on 2000 years ago. And, amazingly, just as in our generation stuck up non-chareidim fight against the system, don’t buy into it and complain that it “isn’t fair”, that’s just what the non-Leviim did 2000 years ago. And that's why the Blogger Malachai (my previous gilgul) spends 3 chapters trying to set them straight.


Dov said...

Sorry my friend, but you need to look at reality. First, people who do not prepare for earning money cannot earn much in this modern world, except in certain cases where they have relatives that can set them up in business. Second, learning skills and finding jobs takes time, which an avreich with 5 kids doesn't have. Third, the non-frum world is not supporting kollels, so percentages need to be based on how much can possibly be expected to be given by frum people and how many kollel couples that can support.

The decision to maintain all claiming-to-be-chareidi men in pure Torah study throughout early years has already created a situation where they cannot decide to work because of lack of skills and lack of time to acquire them, and the number of people learning is already way beyond what can be supported by the total religious population's donations.

I am not against kollels, I've lived the majority of my post-college life in neighborhoods with strong kollel populations, and I'd be happy to sit and learn (and write) if I didn't have a chiyuv mi'deoraisa and mi'derobanan to support my family. My only claim is that Jews, even those who choose to call themselves chareidi, need to take that same obligation seriously.

The poverty level, the number of people coming to my door on a daily basis, is DIRECTLY related to this entire issue.

Without endorsing Rabbi Merelys or anything he says on (or off) his blog, I speculate that this is what he means: he supports kollels (including for his son) for anyone that can do so while putting food on the table, and only opposes them because of the reality of the poverty and other social problems being caused by people being pressured to live a kollel life in a circumstance where they can't put food on the table.

If I'm wrong regarding Rabbi Merelys, I'll take that position for myself. I have no connection to Rabbi Marelys besides having once ordered simcha invitations from someone in his family.

Regarding gedolim of recent years working, I'll simply refer to the Chofetz Chaim who owned and operated a store (you know the story of his saying Kriyas Shma when a customer came in), Rav Kahati working in a post office, Rashi and Rav Shlomo Gantzfried worked in the wine business, and I think Rav Dessler and Rav Yisrael Salanter worked in early life. I've heard stories of lots of others too, but don't remember details now.

Freelance Kiruv Maniac said...

1) I think the anti-Kollel people are more offended by the pro-kollel propaganda in Yeshivos than by anything else.
2) When you try to calm their fears by saying most bachurim go to work after 5-10 years in kollel, I don't think that calms anybody's fears.
For them, 5-10 years of dependency is 5-10 years too long.

(And in case you were thinking of making an analogy, college loans get repaid.)

Yechezkel said...

To Dov,

For the most part, we are back to discussing things from the Ravi Yishmael perspective vs. the Rashbi perspective that I have discussed ad infinitum. You are preaching Ravi Yishmael and fortifying it by cases of Gedolim that seemingly were Rabbi Yishmael. I always hear the same 5 or 10 names.(Chofetz Chaim, Rashi, etc.) and even these I debate with the Poorer than Hillel essay I linked in my post here. As I wrote to one commenter, almost everybody else (Rav Moshe F, Rav Yaakov K, the Steipler, the Chazon Ish, Rav SZA, Rav Elyashiv, Rav Ovadia Yosef, Rav JBS, Rav Hershel Schachter, Rav Meir Shapiro, Ben Ish Chai, Baba Sali, Mechaver, Shach, Taz, Maharal, Noda B'Yehuda, I can go on and on and on) were all Torasam Umnasam. They were Rabbanim and Roshei Yeshiva and lived off of their constituents like all Rabbanim and Roshei Yeshiva. The same goes for "all those people who knock at your door". What you don't take into account is "all those people (from the same background) who don't knock at your door" which far outnumber those who do.
I won't elaborate on it here in a comment but you know where to find me if you want to continue this discussion off line.


I thought you read enough of my "disclaimers" including the FAQs of my book and my Terms and Tips for comments to understand that I do not write for the anti-Kollelniks or anti-Chareidim. Nothing that I write will ever placate the "antis". I only write for other Chareidim who need help in "Dah mah l'hashiv" and for the objective undecided class who are fed a steady diet of distorted anti-chareidi/kollel propaganda and could use a change of diet.

Anonymous said...

(And in case you were thinking of making an analogy, college loans get repaid.)

I dont think they accept college loans as opposed to Kollel "dependency" because of this. I think it is because they feel that college is a part of life that can not be overlooked. Kollel, while nice for those who are able, is a nice thing to do on the weekends or over the weekend for those who cant manage on their own.

Dov said...

Yechezkel I think you've misunderstood. I wasn't asking which of the two approaches was better, that's an old discussion. And it's a discussion that's relevant when both are practically possible.

I was asking whether the current poverty situation can be what HaShem and Chazal want from the Torah world.

Tzedaka donations are down and going down, even working people can't afford Jewish school tuition in the states or life in general in Israel. Israeli Yeshivos of all types are hurting because Americans can't afford to send their kids for the year. Saying that the answer is more donations doesn't work when the donations don't exist.

If mass poverty isn't Ratzon Hashem, we need an answer that can actually work.

Yechezkel said...

>>If mass poverty isn't Ratzon Hashem, we need an answer that can actually work.

I have discussed very clearly what Hashem wants and what we need to do, not only in this post, but in some previous posts, notably:

God's Pyramid Scheme


Curing Cancer

Our disagreement boils down to that you evidently don't believe that it "can actually work" and I believe that it can.

And since not enough people are willing to try it, we will never know - will we?

Dov said...

Maybe I've missed something, if so I'm sorry. Is there reason to think that nowadays, meaning in the past 6 months, that there are significant numbers of religious Jews giving less than ma'aser? Or significant numbers of religious Jews with enough extra disposable income (in the past 6 months) to make a dent in the poverty under discussion? Maybe I've missed this.

Dov said...

One more thing: Your responses are off the original point. You claimed that anyone concerned with the poverty caused by the current kollel-for-everyone system is "anti learning." All I said is that it's possible to be fully in favor of learning but against people doing it in a way that deliberately puts them in poverty. Doing so is assur and I believe is not ratzon Hashem. But whether you agree or disagree, you can't claim that people are anti-learning when they're just anti-poverty.

Yechezkel said...

My original response is my original point: We are not discussing poverty, we are discussing dependency.