Leaving kollel is often referred to as “leaving learning”, meaning of course, that when a person leaves kollel to go work, he is no longer solely occupied with learning, and will be spending a large part of his day occupied with worldly matters. However, there is a sinister undertone to this expression which lends much stigma to leaving kollel. The implication is that once one leaves kollel, he no longer does serious learning.Rav Elchonon Wasserman once remarked on how soldiers, who are so strictly disciplined during their stay in the military, but as soon as they leave they no longer exhibit any self restraint. He explained that all along the soldiers are never trying to change themselves, instead they are only trying to get through their term. Once they leave, they no longer have any need to keep to their artificially induced behavior.
How one conducts himself during the summer vacation is a sign of his true commitment to learning. If one learns even through the break, that shows he is truly committed to learning. But if an entire day, week, or even month can go by without seriously learning during that time, it shows that all along he is just a soldier being forced to “fit in” with the crowd. His commitment to Torah learning is not sincere, and when he leaves kollel, he is probably going to be leaving learning. But if one shows his commitment to learning even while on vacation, for such a person learning is real. For him, leaving kollel is not leaving learning. He may change his schedule, and learning may become difficult for him, but he will always make sure to stay “in learning”.
Are you learning during your summer vacation? Or is it an opportunity for you to “leave learning”?