What Is Rav Elyashiv’s Kollel Stipend Worth Today?


rav-elyashiv-stipendAt times when cutbacks and decrees are set upon the Torah world, when kollelim are being closed and yeshiva students are compelled to wait months before they receive their reduced stipends, an expenses notebook of Yeshiva Ohel Torah was recently revealed. In it are the stipends lists of many renowned rabbonim during the years 1935-1946, including those of Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv zt”l and ybl”c Rav Shmuel Halevi Wosner. The notebook will be put on the up-coming sale at the Kedem Auction House in Yerushalayim.

Among the famous gedolim mentioned in the expenses notebook are Rav Elyashiv, Rav Binyamin Yehoshua Zilber, Rav Baruch Yitzchok Levine, Rav Shlomo Tene, Rav Moshe Tukachinsky, Rav Shalom Shwadron and Rav Wosner.

According to the entries in this notebook, the stipends were not allocated equally, and they ranged from the sums of half a pound to four Palestine pounds a month. These allotments were very valued with regard to the period, and due to the great demand for it, only excelling talmidim were accepted to the yeshiva. Most of them were graduates of the Chevron Yeshiva and other Litvishe yeshivos.  The roshei yeshiva earned a 10 pound allotment, the equivalent of the clerks’ fee under the Mandate government (!).

One of the intriguing facts around this notebook is the stipend of Rav Elyashiv, which amounted to the high sum of 4 Mandatory pounds, which would worth today around $4,000. This stipend had a purchase value of a few minimum wages nowadays and could surely support a family of a few children. At this stage of his life, Rav Elyashiv was a 30-year-old husband and a father to some of his 12 children, as he had been already married 10 years to his rebbetzin, Rav Aryeh Levine’s daughter.  Rav Elyashiv’s stipend was the maximum allotment given to kollel members, as the notebook proves. Rav Wosner got 3.5 pounds, a high sum on its own. For comparison sake, today a yeshiva student stipend ranges between 2,000 to 2,500 NIS ($580-725) a month.

This notebook sheds some light on a partially unknown period in the history of Rav Elyashiv. Rav Elyashiv learnt independently in various botei medrash in Yerushalayim, not in a set yeshiva. He received semichah in 1938 and in 1940 joined the Ohel Torah Kollel headed by the son in law of Rav Herzog. The relationship with Rav Herzog was to bring Rav Elyashiv into the world of dayanus.

Meron Eren, one of the owners of the Kedem Auction House, notes that “at a time of public discussion over the budgeting of yeshiva students and kollelim, this notebook garners much interest. The notebook proves that in the past, excellent yeshiva students earned very fair wages, which exceeded the minimum wage. Moreover, the fact that this notebook mentions Rav Elyashiv increases the interest around it amidst his followers and students alike.”

{Matzav.com Israel News Bureau}


  1. $4,000 (monthly) would be a huge stipend in Israel. However the article doesn’t tell us how often this particular stipend was distributed.


  2. A yeshiva student gets 2,000 NIS nowadays? Where did that figure come from? The Mir pays Israeli yungerleit only 750 NIS a month (when they actually give checks), I think 2,000 is quite a generous figure.
    How did Rav Elyashiv have 12 kids after being married for 10 years?

  3. no yungerman in eretz yisroel gets 500 dollars a month dream on maybe in a army yeshiva most yugerleit get 500 to 700 shekel while american kolelim here get a little more but 500 dollars is unheard of but it would be a good dream

  4. Plenty of people get paid less in real dollars than they did years ago. And plenty of people get paid more. There’s your real inequity. Similarly, certainly things cost much more than the salaries have increased. Yeshiva tuition may be 10 times what it was 35 years ago, thanks to tremendous increase in liability, staffing requirements, building requirement, energy costs, etc. etc. How many jobs pay 10 times what they paid 35 yrs ago?

  5. The Amount of young men learning were a handful. The quality of those listed represent the top 1 per cent of the best talmidim available in the world.

  6. The reading comprehension of some of those who comment on this web site is really amazing!
    #2- go back and read again.
    It says father to some of his children.

  7. only excelling talmidim were accepted to the yeshiva. ——-VERY IMPT POINT.

    #1 500-700 shekel monthly is not equal to $500 a month.

  8. If I recall correctly the Chinuch book by Rav Wolbe zt’l (On “building and planting”) mentioned a statement of the Chazon Ish’s zt’l that he advised men learning in kollel to never spend above their means, as this habit would constitute a type of spiritual suicide for them. I was astonished, thinking of the low sums of money many kollel families have in modern times–how was it possible to live so frugally? It seems that financially they were better off

  9. To #2:

    The article says R’ Elyashiv was by that time
    “father to some of his twelve children”, meaning not all of them had been born yet.

  10. This does not take mention cost of living into account. Meaning how far would this stipend go to cover necessary expenses? It could really be more less or the same in value as now.

  11. I quote what you wrote:

    “The roshei yeshiva earned a 10 pound allotment, the equivalent of the clerks’ fee under the Mandate government (!).

    One of the intriguing facts around this notebook is the stipend of Rav Elyashiv, which amounted to the high sum of 4 Mandatory pounds, which would worth today around $4,000.”

    Wait a minute! If 4 Mandatory pounds is worth $4,000 today than a 10 pound allotment would be worth 2 1/2 times that much (10 divided by 4 = 2 1/2), or $10,000 in today’s money. I assume that these allotments are monthly otherwise you couldn’t be able to compare the historical allotments to today’s stipends.

    So there you have it. A clerk’s fee under the Mandate government was $10,000 a month in today’s money (or an annual salary of $120,000).

    I wish I could be a clerk under the Mandate government. Taxes weren’t even that high then. (Did the clerk get health benefits as well?)

    B’Kitzur, either the one who penned this article failed arithmetic, or he’s simply full of hogwash. Take your pick.

  12. Matzav left our my comment the remaining part of my comment that pointed out; it is not relevant what Rav Elyshiv z”l got paid. The amount of people at that time learning full time was minimal. Todays model of everyone going to sit to learn never existed. A young man can learn 4 or 5 hours a day and still have a full time job.

  13. Doesn’t make sense. Comment #19 is asking good.

    Also go to
    Assume 4 pounds is $4 dollars.
    Inflation Calculator
    If in (1913)
    I purchased an item for $4
    then in (2013)
    that same item would cost:$96.26
    Cumulative rate of inflation:2306.6%

    So he was receiving $96.26 (monthly?)
    The books describe his learning despite poverty…

  14. To #21:

    The article mentions the years 1935-46, not 1913.
    Additionally, the rate of inflation in the US and UK are not the same. 4 pounds in 1935 is equal to about 250 pounds in 2013, or 375 US dollars in the same year. 4 pounds in 1946 comes out to about 150 pounds in 2013, or 225 US dollars. Either way, I’m not sure where the figure of $4,000 a month comes from. Perhaps that was the stipend per year, as $375 per month is $4500 a year.
    See the following link:

  15. To #’s 23 and 24:

    I had seen the wikipedia article that you reference before I made my comment. I’m not impressed with the historical accuracy of wikipedia. Sometimes they get it right and sometimes they don’t; it depends on the reliability of their original source.

    My point is that the Kedem Auction house might by using this article, be attempting to garner interest in the marketability of this artifact, namely the the expenses notebook of Yeshiva Ohel Torah.

    A further agenda might be to stress the point that in the past the study of Torah had been more respected than it is today, and this is reflected by the fact that the great Torah scholar of yore were compensated to a much higher degree than today.

    My contention is that the notebook in its context is probative of mouthing. The notebook is simply a record of expenditures made in specific time period. It’s purpose was to account for how the money it received was actually expended. This was the common practice of Gabbai Tzedakah. These records were not audited of course, and we don’t know if the books were “cooked” in any way. In those days there did not exist any program of internal control; this notebook was the best that they could do. It was better than no record at all.

    Since this is not a ledger account with periodic charges and credits to the account of each Chaver Hakollel, we cannot not know the regularity of the distribution to its recipients. For example, if the record shows that Rav Elyashiv received 4 Palestine pounds (whatever that was worth) on a certain date, we don’t know whether this money was meant to cover a monthly commitment. It might be the amount that was owed to him for 2 months or perhaps 4 months in arrears. It might be a payment in advance. We just don’t know.

    The fact is that Yeshivah worked pretty much like Yeshivahs are run today. If money came in it was distributed; if there was no money the chavrei Hakollel received nothing.

    I conclude that as an historical document, this notebook is of very little value. As a valid comparison to the the lifestyle of modern day Kollel students it is utterly useless.