Response to Mishpacha Magazine’s Goldmines Story

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learningBy Kollel Guy

Mishpacha magazine recently ran a story called Goldmines which  got many people all fired up. The story is almost predictable. A mother of 3 “top” boys wants only the best for her sons. After all, they are great masmidim and budding talmidei chachamim. She marries them all off to girls who have professions, so they can provide their families with material needs while their husbands toil in Torah.

Years go on, the wives work very hard on their businesses while neglecting their families, leaving their husbands to take their place. After a few years, the wives are fully involved in their successful enterprises, while the husbands’ learning has taken second place to their primary roles of being surrogate mothers to their children.

The story ends with the mother expressing regret for choosing career women for her sons. And if people will ask, “How will they be able to marry off their children?” she replies, “What is wrong with having a little emunah?”

Mishpacha’s readers fired off their angry replies, which were harshly critical of the mother and her expectations. If the wife is busy working, they feel, certainly the husband must take upon himself the responsibility of running the house, even if his learning would suffer as a result. What about the husband’s learning? The consensus of the (woman) writers were: “So be it, as long as he helps his hard working wife.”

Stop and think for a minute. If the husband is not able to learn properly because of his obligation to help his wife, why is the wife working in the first place? Only to support her family so her husband can learn. But if he is not learning due to his “obligation” to help his wife, there is no reason in the world why he should be helping and she should be working.

The truth really is that the mother’s insistince on “income-producing” wives for her sons had nothing to do with learning, and everything to do with money. Her main concern was that her sons should be “taken care” of financially, without having to worry about parnassah. Oh, and on the side they may as well learn, since they won’t be doing anything else.

Had she really worried about her sons’ learning, she would not have insisted on a career woman for her prized sons. Instead, she would seek a woman who appreciates the true value of Torah. A girl who understands what Torah really is would make sure her husband is able to learn throughout all situations. Instead, the mother chose to run after money, and that is what she ended up with – money, but no Torah.

{Kollel Guy/ Newscenter}


  1. If a husband isn’t supporting his wife, she has the right to ask for a divorce. It’s in the kesubah that he will feed and clothe her, and if he doesn’t do that, she has a right to ask for a get.

    As for the thinking in the story, you’re right, it’s not logical – the wife working so her husband should watch the kids makes no sense. Unfortunately, people don’t think it through these days, and make illogical decisions. Bochurim are driven to learn and are told anything else is a waste of their life. That is the mistake.

    I’ve heard that one of the reasons so many kids go off the derech nowadays is that there isn’t a mother setting the derech in the home – they’re busy working. It is the mother’s responsibility to set the derech in her home, and if she’s out, it will only cause problems for her children.

  2. I have a number of daughters who married kollel men. They all have advanced degrees and professional positions. They are also all mothersof small children. All of their husbands are major talmedei chachomin and help outtremendously at home. One does not negate the other!

  3. There is truth to both sides.
    There are 2 ‘dinim’.
    1.Husband MUST learn.
    2.Husband SHOULD help out.
    Then there are 2 more ‘dinim’.
    1. Wife MUST work.
    2. Wife MAY (not a must) neglect the home.
    Thus, one tries to balance all these ‘dinim’,
    depending on ones background. Just like a ‘gut shtikel toira’ is rated based on the yeshiva he studied at.
    The young couple is usually happy with its own arrangment. Its the shvigers (both) and sometimes the shvers (also both) who are usually amazed at how the ‘children’ balance the ‘dinim’, but are either from different backgrounds or are just plain ‘mekane’ the arrangment. So they vent.

  4. I am going to echo #3’s position. This world wasn’t set up for women to do men’s work and vice versa (wasn’t that the torture in Mitzrayim?)

    Men are fully capable of learning as well as working, if they prioritize it enough to wake up early to pursue it, as it is done in my family for generations.

    One can’t upset the balance of the world and not expect there to be repercussions.

    Is anyone aware of how hard it is to be a mother of small children who keep you up at night, then go to work, then make dinner, then do the laundry, then stay up at night with a baby?

    If a girl think she wants a kollel life, she should spend her seminary year on a trial run.

  5. If women are capable of having 2 full-time jobs, working full-time outside the home AND properly taking care of her home and family (which is a full-time job), why is the assumption that the men are not capable of this?

    Make no mistake…women who work full-time are rarely neglecting their homes and chlidren, they are running themselves ragged to do it all.

  6. I dont think the author is a kollel guy either.

    But, I AM a Kollel guy in Eretz Yisroel, and most of my friends are learning full time as well. NONE of the wives work so much that the husband cant learn for hours on end. Maybe there is a seder here and there, or part of a seder here or there. But none of my friends have left learning to become home-keepers. HENCE – I agree that it has to do with priorities.

    Regarding the Kesubah – you are correct IF the wife wants. I think we are dealing with wives who want to work so their husbands can learn. That makes the kesubah irrelevant to the discussion.

  7. To #7
    Who asked you to run 2 full times jobs, certainly not Hashem!!

    I read the story in Mishpacha. I sensed that the writer was after far more than a future daughter-in-law that will commit to a kollel life. She really was after $$$$. I’m very surprised that no one picked up on this; not in the ‘letters to the editor’ of Mishpacha, nor here.

  8. the system is quite crazy, ask me, i’ve been there! No it is not possible for women to be SUPERwomen, something will definitely have to give (#3).
    My husband, after eight years in kollel, is getting up at 4:30 – 5:00 in the morning to learn, and does it well!
    And after a full days work, my husband will learn some more… Every second of his time is used constructively.

    bottom line is, it is not right for the women to be responsible for everything, and of course if she can’t then she is made to feel like something is ‘wrong’.

    Hatzlacha to everyone!


    Please note: You are not going to marry Reb Chaim Shmuelevitz. You are going to marry a guy. He may be a Kollel guy, but a guy nonetheless. 22, 23 years old guys are not finished products. He will not talk, walk, think, or behave like Reb Chaim Shmuelevitz. He may come late to shachris. That is not a sign that he is “not cut out for Kollel”, nor is it a sign that he is a “faker”. Your Kollel husband may be a struggling human being just like you or anybody else. The Shiva yipol tzdik v’kam principal will apply to him to. Your job is to give this raw diamond the encouragement, support, and help him grow into the great person that he can be.

    You are not his Mashgiach. You are his helper. There is no third role. It’s either “ezer” – a helper, or “kenegdo” – an opponent. You are one or the other. Guys need wives to help them grow, to get them through their struggles, to pick them up when they fall, to encourage them and believe in them. Not to be their mothers or mashgichim or supervisors.

    If every yeshiva guy that came late to davening, or shmoozed with his chavrusa now and then in the middle of seder, or wasn’t the biggest masmid in the world was made to leave Yeshiva, you would have many of today’s Roshei Yeshiva, Rabbanim, Rebbeim, and Talmidei Chachamim, doing computers or something. You cannot predict the final outcome of a person based on a minute-to-minute assessment of how precise he is about being where hes supposed to be on time or the length of time he spends in Yeshiva without going to the coffee room.

    There are other yardsticks, which are much more meaningful when judging the odds of a young man becoming great. These go more in the direction of the intensity of his thirst for learning, his desire to become great, his valuing of greatness and his commitment to pursue it. His values and dreams and desires are, at that point in his life, more telling than his attendance records.

    Girls tend to assess their husbands in terms of discipline; the husbands assess themselves based on their growth, which may or may not be proportionate to their discipline.

    And the husbands were taught all their life to assess themselves like that, because that is how their Rebbeim assessed them – in terms of potential and commitment and desire.

    The goal of a Kolel man is to grow and become the biggest Talmid Chacham he can. Often, husbands and wives are not on the same page regarding what is considered vital to that endeavor, at least while someone is in his growing stages.

    Girls often think that (a) their husbands are already complete products when they are just married and (b) they assess their husband’s value as a Ben Torah by their discipline, which is just one small ingredient in the recipe.

    The first thing to know is, you are not marrying Reb Chaim Shmuelevitz. The second thing is, even Rebitzen Shmuelevitz didn’t marry Reb Chaim Shmuelevitz. It takes many many years to become R. Chaim Shmuelevitz. He struggled too. We all do.

    Rav Hutner’s letter describing how it is sad that we don’t realize how much our Gedolim struggled to become Gedolim, and in how many battles the Yetzer Horah defeated the Chofetz chaim, for instance, before he became the Chofetz Chaim, also applies to young men in Kollel. Or, more accurately, young guys in Kollel.

    One of the reasons for this disconnect between the girls’ ideas of what Bnei Torah should be versus the Bnei Torahs’ ideas, is that girls go to school where they have role models, and they tend to think that the boys’ role models are kind of male versions of their own. So for instance, they figure they know of a big rebitzen, and they figure a Rosh Yeshiva is a male version of their rebitzens. But it’s not so. The Rebitzen, no matter how old and wise and talented she is, received her formal Judaic training in high school and a year or 2 of seminary. Full time education for women does not go beyond that. And that is altogether not a problem – women have the responsibility of raising a family and learning is not their full time job. Fine. But we must understand that creating a role model for Yeshiva guys — a Rosh Yeshiva — takes years and years and years of hard work, in Yejhsiva, going to Shiurim, learning b’chavrusa, full time, and more.

    So when a girl is married to a guy with a few years Bais Medrash experience under his belt, she sometimes thinks that he’s already supposed to be a big role model, like her rebitzens. But it doesn’t work that way. The trajectory that guys follow to greatness is sooooo different than that of girls. And if you want to be able to understand where your guy is coming from, you need to know his path to growth.

    Guys use completely different benchmarks of success and growth than girls do. And if you’re using a girls standards on a guy, its like measuring a liquid in inches or distance by the pound. Sadly so many guys are being labeled as “fakers” or “not cut out for learning” by their wives simply because they did not know how to assess what it takes to be “cut out for learning”.


    The workplace, even frum workplaces, is not a place for a good Jewish boy. We have to be there, granted; we have to make a living for our families – which is a Mitzvah in itself – but we need to realize the price we pay for those necessities.

    There is a story in the mussar seforim, about a man who had a premonition that next year’s crops would be poisoned, so that whoever would eat it would become insane. He didn’t; know what to do — if he would eat the crops he’d become insane, but if he does not eat the crops, the whole world will be insane except him, and being the only normal one in an insane world is just as bad as being insane. Warning people about the crops is useless because nobody would believe him anyway. So he went ot the village wise man who told him, “You have to eat the crops. You’re right – that being the only normal person in an insane world is as bad as being insane. Plus it will drive you crazy anyway. But here’s what you do:

    “Tie a string around your finger to remind yourself constantly that you have eaten from the crops and you are insane. Being insane is bad, but in this case you have no choice. However, for the rest of the world, much worse than being insane is the fact that they will think theyre normal. Being insane is bad, but being insane thinking you’re normal is much worse. So tie a string around your finger which will always remind you that you are insane. You’ll be insane, but at least you’ll know you’re insane. Everyone else will think they’re normal, so you’ll be much much better off than the rest.”

    The nimshal is, there’s nothing wrong with going to work, and often it may even be a necessity. But to spend the gift of life that Hashem gives us for such a short time in this world selling cars or programming computers or whatever we need to do to make a living, is insane. It may be necessary, but it’s still insane. We have so little to live in this world (we should all live to 120 years, but compared to eternity in the afterlife, 120 years is nothing), and its our only chance to collect Torah and Mitzvos — how crazy is it to busy ourselves with other things??

    But we have to? OK, we have to. At the very least, let us realize that we do so out of necessity and that making a living necessitates our leading a life which, when you consider what we’re on this world for and the opportunities that exist ONLY while we are here, is insane. Let’s at least realize that.

    For those who learn all day, they may not need to tie strings around their fingers, but, unfortunately, in the materialistic and confused world that we live in, they need posts such as this one, to constantly remind them that their lives are very, very normal, sane, and healthy.

    The hardships of Kolel are nothing compared to the pleasures. Like Rav Aharon ZT’L said – that those who support learning might get Olam Habah like those who learn, but they surely don’t get Olam Hazeh like them. Money isn’t everything – even in Olam Hazeh.


    Gemilas chasadim is great; bikur cholim is great; hachnosas orchim, hachnasas kallah, levayas hameis — all great.

    But Talmud Torah Kneged Kulam.

    One word of Torah learning imparts more holiness than an entire lifetime of doing other Mitzvos.

    On The Reasons for Leaning Full Time

    Talmud Torah K’neged Kulam means always. There is no such thing as a “proper time” for learning, or an “improper time”. The Gemora says that only during a time when “it is not day or night” is the time for learning “not proper.” It’s not a question of right or wrong. The Halachah, as explained by the Ohr Sameach in Hilchos Talmud Torah, is that everyone has to learn an amount according to his level. The more a person understands the value of learning, the more time he must spend on it.

    But it’s not a question of Halachah, not l’chatchilah not b’dieved. It’s simply this: If I showed you a pile of coins and gave you 1 hour to collect as much as you can, you would spend as much time gathering the gold as you could.

    Torah is the greatest Mitzvah – one word of Torah, Chazal say, is more holy than an entire lifetime of doing Mitzvos.

    And we have one lifetime to gather our gold. Someone who appreciates that doesn’t care if he is halachicly obligated of not. Everyone agrees that learning Torah is gold. Even if you are not halachicly obligated to run after it.


    Nobody disagrees with the fact that it is better to have the mother home to raise the kids full time. But in a situation where you cant have that AND a Kollel father and husband at the same time, which of those two has to fall by the wayside?

    The answer is, you take whichever you think is MORE important: a mother always being home or a father who is the biggest talmid chacham he can be.

    Someone in Lakewood once expressed to Rav Schenuer Kotler ZT’L about how if he stays in Kollel his children will be deprived of many things they would have otherwise. Rav Schenuer responded that providing them with a father who is a Talmid Chacham is more important than any of those things. And he should think hard before depriving them of that.

    Yes, a woman’s place is at home. But also yes, the type of home you are supposed to have is a Torah home, a Torah-husband and Torah-father at its helm.

    The question is, if you can only have one of those two positive elements of a home, which is more important?

    The answer is having a husband and father who is a Talmid Chacham, or better yet, the biggest Talmid Chacham he can be, is the more important of the two.

    So if you can have both, fine; if not, then we choose learning.

    This is not considered making a “compromise” in religion, since either way you will have to give up something – the only question is what has to give.

    Furthermore, there is a special concept surrounding the Mitzvah of learning that does not apply to any other Mitzvah, a concept that affects both Halachah and Hashkafa, that is, Torah learning in the world is so important that we prioritize Torah learning in a way that we would never do with other Mitzvos. For instance, normally, if you have a choice between you doing a Mitzvah or you causing someone else to do a Mitzvah, we say chayecha kodem – your Mitzvah comes first. So if you can afford one pair of Tefillin, you use it yourself as opposed to giving it away to someone else. However, with regard to Torah learning, the Halachah is that if a father can afford one Rebbi, either for him or his son, if his son has potential to be a Talmid Chacham, he should give the Rebbi to his son, and forgo his own learning. Such an idea exists nowhere except regarding Torah learning.

    Another for instance: Living off Tzedakah is frowned upon in the Torah. However, the Shach writes that nowadays, if the only way you will be able to learn is to live of the public, then it would be an aveirah not to do so, because how else will we have the maximum amount of Talmdei Chachamim in the world?

    I would suspect that all this is a derivative of the Halachah of Eis Laasos – that with regard to the laws of Torah learning, in order to maintain Torah at it’s maximum strength, we jettison other Halachos. Eis Laasos applies only to the laws of Torah learning, not to anything else. In any case, in the recipe of a Torah lifestyle, Torah learning is all the way on the top of the list. And although it is true that kol kevudah bas melech penimah, and a woman’s place is with her children, an even greater merit than all that is when a woman is moser nefesh so that her home will be graced with as much of the light of Torah as possible.

    Here’s another one:

    Kollel life isn’t just about learning vs. working. You’re talking about a father who is home in time to prepare for Shabbos; who is there on Chol Hamoed dressed in his Shabbos clothing, together with his children; you’re talking about a chodesh elul being a real elul – a preparation for yomim norayim. You’d be surprised how hard it is for working people to make aseres yemei teshuva into aseres yemei teshuva. The mincah minyan at work goes just as fast – everyone has to get back to their cubes; erev Yom Kippur – do you take a day off or not? Rushing home erev Shabbos in the winter on the train or in the car and barely making it in time for candle lighting, as opposed to the learning man who can properly prepare for the Coming of the Shabbos Queen.

    You’re talking about someone who, instead of being exposed to the idle chit-chat of the men and women in his office – and “idle chit chat” is being very nice about it – is engrossed all day in kedushas HaTorah.

    Yes, you may not be able to go shopping as much as you like, but there are other, this-worldly benefits that to those who have them. more than make up for that.

    It is a very, very, very different life.

  13. WOMEN

    Women need Torah, too. Without Torah, you cant get Olam Habah. And so the Gemora asks the question: Nashim b’,ai zachyan – How do women merit Olam Habah if they do not learn Torah?

    The Gemora answers; Bakroei banaihu l’bei kenishta, ib’asniyei gavraihu bai rabanon – by supporting and helping their husband and children learn.


    The overwhelmingly most important advantage of learning in Kollel is that you are learning. Simple as that. Torah learning is the highest, greatest, most glorious form of Avodas Hashem, which will get for you the greatest share in Olam Habah possible, much much more and much much greater than any other thing you can do for Hashem, including any other type of Mitzvos. Learning Torah brings by far the greatest nachahs to Hashem, the greatest benefits to Klal Yisroel, and the greatest benefits to those who do the learning, than anything else you can possibly do.

    Hands down, no contest.

    That’s why we learn.

    As an example: A man once came to the Chazon Ish asking him advice. He got 2 job offers, and he wants to know which to take.

    The first is Kashrus administrator of the rabbanut, a position in which he is confident that he would be able to change the kashrus standards in all of Israel, causing the public to eat only kosher food. If he does not take this job, they will hire someone who does not have his standards and the public who rely on this hechsher will not eat kosher (note: I do not know what the issues with the hechsher were, or how severe).

    His other choice is to be a rebbi in a yeshiva. If he does not take that job, the Yeshiva will hire a different Ben Torah, on the same level as him, so its not as if the kids are going to be less frum.

    Which job should he take, he asked.

    The Chazon Ish asked him, “Do you think, if you take the job as a Rebbi, that you could perhaps convince 2 of your students to learn during a Bain Hazemanim?”

    “Yes,” he said. “I think I can do that.”

    “Then you should know,” said the Chazon Ish, “that two kids learning Torah bain hazemanim as if it were the zman, is much more valuable to Hashem than making the entire Eretz Yisroel eat kosher!”

    This is the kind of material that boys are taught in yeshiva. This is the main motivation for learning in Kollel. The situation these days in Eretz Yisroel is terrible. We need to help our brothers there. What can we do, spiritually I am talking about now, to help? Well, the Chazon Ish said that learning one single Tosfos has the power to nullify many evil decrees on Klal Yisroel. It can take any where from a few minutes to much longer to learn a Tosfos. One single Tosfos — perhaps a few minutes of Torah learning – can nullify many gezeiros against Klal Yisroel.

    We say it every day; Talmud Torah Kneged Kulam. This means, say Chazal, that learning one word of Torah – one! word! – imparts more holiness than a lifetime of doing Mitzvos! The Vilna Gaon comments: So when someone learns just one page of Gemora, he covers hundreds of words, each of which gives him more Kedusha than a lifetime of doing Mitzvos. In Yeshiva, they teach this, that Torah learning – as opposed to any other form of Avodas Hashem – is by far, by very, very far, the highest and greatest act of Avodah that a person can be invovled in, and through it, one merits by far, by very very far, the greatest measure of Olam Habah; and through it, one releases, by far, by very very far, the very greatest measure of Hashem’s influence and Goodness into this world.

    Nothing compares. Nothing comes close. Not Kiruv, not Tzedakah, not Hatzalah, nothing. Please note, that all those other endeavors – the Mitzvah ones – are glorious and wonderful forms of Avodas Hashem. But Torah learning is a billion times greater. All this applies to the act of learning, even if it is done by someone who is not a Talmid Chacham.

    But the Talmid Chacham, even if he does not teach, even if he does not preach, is, more than anything else, the one most valuable thing to Hashem in this world. And no wonder. If one world of Torah learning can bring more kedusha into this world than a lifetime of anything else, then the very existence of the Talmid Chacham is a conduit of holiness and Hashem’s Influence into this world. The very presence of the Talmid Chacham benefits our world in ways that nothing else can.

    As Rav Hutner ZT’L used to point out – every utensil in the Bais HaMikdash had some kind of Avodah done with it. Except the Aron. The Aron did nothing but exist. The Aron represents the Talmid Chachom, the container of the Torah. It does not need to do any act. Its very presence is its success. (Of course, this does not mean that a Talmid Chacham does not have to fulfill the Mitzvos. Doing Mitzvos is part of being a Talmid Chacham, because if someone does not do what he learns, then obviously his learning is not meant seriously, and is not real learning.)

    But a Talmid Chacham does not have to be “employed.” The Vilna Gaon had no “job.” He was not the local Rabbi, Rosh Yeshiva, or anything. He was like the Aron Kodesh. In our days, the Chazon Ish, the Steipler, and yibd”l Rav Chaim Kanievsky had/have no “jobs”. Each are an Aron HaKodesh.

    Rav Ahron Kotler ZT’L said in his hesped of the Chazon Ish, that the reason the Chazon Ish was bigger than him, was because the Chazon Ish had no yeshiva to run; he had nothing in his life except Torah. The goal of becoming a Talmid Chacham is so, so, so desirable, that everyone is encouraged to pursue it. If you cant, or wont, for whatever reason, nobody is judging you. But no question — if our goal in this world is to bring Nachas Ruach to Hashem / to accumulate merits for Olam Habah / to sanctify the world / etc etc — becoming a Talmid Chacham is by far the best way to go.

    But even if you are not going to be a Talmid Chacham, being the closest you can become, is also the most desirable and glorious and highest goal for you. Learning itself is the greatest act of Avodas Hashem that can be performed in the world.

    One more important point: Contrary to the belief of many, it is impossible to predict who will become a Talmid Chacham. As the Chazon Ish said, “Every student is a possible godol hador”. The Roshei Yeshiva of today were not all the ones who people thought would become the Roshei Yeshiva of today. And vice versa. Talent and intellect help, to be sure, but effort and siyata dishmaya are more important to success as a Torah scholar. Becoming a “godol” is not just for the brightest. In fact, often it is not they who attain that goal. An average student, and it has happened that also below average students, have become great Gedolim and surpassed their more talented peers. Not everybody can become the greatest Talmid Chacham in the world. But everybody can become as close to the greatest Talmid Chacham in the world that he can. Those Bnei Torah, the ones who pour their heart and soul and life into learning Hashem’s Torah, merit, every single one of them, the greatest share in Olam Habah possible.

    That is the main reason people learn in Kollel. Because Talmud Torah Kneged Kulam.

    There are tons more good reasons — like the effect it has on your home, on your Mitzvah performance, on your personality, on your children — all of which are excellent reasons. But the main reason is, that our goal in this world is to go higher and higher. And there is no better way to go higher than to learn.

    Nothing even close.

    (reposted from elsewhere)

  15. “…they are running themselves ragged to do it all.”

    That’s the problem. How can a working mother properly attend to her children after she comes home from a full day of work? How can she be relaxed?

    My husband is not in kollel, however, I remember when I worked full-time sometimes coming home at 4:00PM after being at work since 7:00AM. I came home ragged not wanting to do anything but sleep. I had absolutely no quality time with my children, and I ended up with very resentful children. Housecleaning, Yeah right! Thank G-d, I quit. Now I work
    at a job part time and i can be home before my children come home from school.

    Please, women, think before you decide to work full-time. You will only send the wrong message to your children and they will ultimately suffer, c’v.

  16. #6 The balance of the world is messed up enough as it is, and this won’t make a bit of a difference. Most children who’s father’s are in kollel have two parents, children who’s father’s are working on the otherhand, have only one. Just a question, how many generation has this been done for in your family? Do you really think you are living in a world of 100 years ago?

  17. Here we go again writing ridiculous story with plots that are designed to fascinate a seven year old. There are many professional women that do not neglect home and hearth and there are many full time mothers who run dysfunctional, disorganized homes.

  18. #4 you are very lucky, however it’s a man’s obligation to bring parnasa (& to learn torah) & it’s the woman’s job to take care of the house & the children. That’s how hashem created this world & that can not be changed. (paroah wanted to change this) This dosn’t mean that a wife should’nt help with parnasa or vice versa. On the contrary this makes for a good partnership where one spouse demonstrates intrest is the other spouse’s responsibility. But let’s not forget who’s responsibility it is. Most of the gedolim in prior generations, had some type of parnosah & if they did’nt, they actually lived from day to day.

  19. Hashem should help we all should let our husbands learn be’emes and not work to hard to be able to give over the zeeskeit of yiddishkeit

  20. It’s a little bit different in NI these days. If boys are close to a BTL, they are considered to have a plan. Many still want support for a few years before starting the masters, or while they shlep it out.

  21. Yoisef, isn’t it enough that you post this drivel on Yeshiva World? Do you have to clutter things up here also? Please, stick to messing up only one site.

  22. All the extolations of Kollel are great, especially coming from people in Kollel justifying their position. I only have 2 questions:1) If EVERYONE learned in Kollel who would lay roads, build houses, be doctors, police officers, etc?
    2)If you really believe that you it is the greatest bracha in life to sit and learn full time, you should be on your hands and knees thanking those who work and support your pleasure. Instead, Iall I see is this ungrateful attitude of “I’m better than you, because I learn and you work.” If your learning doesn’t improve your middos, it’s just bittul zman.


    That’s why all this talk about those able to learn all day being an “exception to the rule” misses the point.

    Not everyone will become Moshe Rabbeinu, to be sure, but everyone should try to come as close as they can. And everyone admits that being Moshe Rabbeinu is something to look up to, strive for, and admire. Even if most of us don’t ever make it there.

    So too even if many people will not learn all day, we all must recognize that it is certainly a higher level, it is a prize and privilege and merit that we should all try to attain, since it provides us with a higher spiritual level, and reaching the highest level possible in this world is our goal.

    Today, thank G-d we live in a society where many, many people can learn all day. They recognize, BH, that learning Torah is better for your soul than practicing law. Or accounting. Or writing software. No question about it.

    The point is the values, not the behavior. Behavior represents Jews; the values represent Judaism. To say that not everyone will reach the high level of learning all day is acceptable. But to say that isn’t a higher level, is changing the Torah’s values. Talmud Torah Kneged Kulam. And that includes every second of learning.


    It was never for “the best” learners but rather for anyone who WANTED the honor of learning in Kollel, as the Rambam describes those who WANT to join Shevet Levi. He does not condition their membership in the Kollel community as having to be the best, but rather having the desire. The idea that only the “best’ should learn in Kollel is a baseless falsehood and it is against the Halchah as expressed by the Rambam which states that anyone who so chooses may learn in Kollel. See also YD Laws of Talmud Torah 246:21 and Shach ad loc. Kollel is a special privilege and status that anyone can go for if they so choose, the Rambam says.

    Sitting and learning all day is the ideal. “Talmud Torah kneged kulam.” Chazal say, one word of Torah is higher than an entire lifetime of doing these Mitzvos. Chazal often mention that Toroso Umnoso is the ideal, that we do nothing all day but learn. Nowadays poskim say that w cannot reach that level, but clearly the closer the better. Also, Shulchan Aruch Hilchos Toalmud Torah, in the Shach ad loc, says that nowadays learning all day is the ideal, and that if someone has the ability to do it, he should. The Shach adds that regarding learning all day in general, nowadays we cannot reach our potential in learning the way the Rambam etc. did, since we are not on that level. Therefore, we should learn all day if we can.

    The Rambam writes that a “working person” is someone who learns 8 hours a day and works 3. Not works 9am to 5pm.

    A few other falsehoods that need responding:

    1) All Chazals, such as Im ain kemach ain torah, just means that if you have no food, you cannot learn. Other Chazals say that if you have no food and you try to learn anyway, you will end up having to steal to eat, and what good is that. None of this has anything to do with Kollel. If you are supported by your parents, in laws, Yeshiva, or wife, you are not in a situation where you have to steal, and you have fulfilled the Chazal.

    2) All Chazals that encourage people to work are also fulfilled by our Kollel people, and only exclude someone who has no means of support. Learning in Kollel is 100% a legitimate parnasa. If I become a baseball player and I have people pay to watch me play ball, thats OK, but if I become a scholar and have people pay me to learn – that’s not?? If I got a job in a think-tank thinking of stuff all day, that’s wonderful – but if I get a job in Kollel thinking of Chidushei Torah that’s not?? Why should learning be any less? B’H today we have people who specifically want to support Kollelim, similar to Yissachar-Zevulun. If I were hired by these people to dance for them, I would be considered having a job. And it is no worse if they hire more to learn and provide them with Olam Habah instead of entertainment.

    The exhortations in Chazal against being unemployed refer to those who have nobody who wants to pay them for anything, and are forced to take money form what was designated for the poor, which they do not have to be if they would get a job. But Kollel is not Tzedakah for aniyim. There is a big difference. Kollel support is support in return for learning. Tzedakah is support in return for nothing. As long as I am earning your support – regardless of whether it is through defending you in court or learning Choshen Mishpat – I am employed.

    None of this “living off tzedakah” material has anything to do with kollel people. This is a common error. Tzedakah means that I give you money for no other reason that you need it – I do not demand anything in return for my donation. If I do demand something in return for my donation, it is not a donation but payment for services rendered. So if I pay you to entertain me, to be my personal trainer, to sing and dance for me, to be my baby sitter, I am not a baby sitter living off charity, but rather a paid worker. And so the statements about people living off tzedakah refer to people who are given money because they are poor, with no expectation from the donor that they learn, or work, or sleep, or do whatever they want. However, if someone gives money to you because he wants to merit the zechus of supporting Torah, and expects you to learn Torah because that is what he is supporting you to do, then that is not tzedakah at all but rather a simple business deal, the same as if I pay you to play baseball.

    If I give you tzedakah money because you are poor, and you sit home all day watching television, then you may be an unproductive member of society but you are not a thief – I gave you tezdakah for food, and you are spending it on food. It was my choice to do that. But if I give you money to learn in Kollel and you stay home all day watching TV then you are a thief, because you took money specifically to learn and you did not keep your end of the bargain.

    Thus, taking money for learning in Kollel is NOT living of tzedakah. Since I, the recipient, must provide something in return for payment received, that is a simple business deal. If I do NOT have to provide anything in return for payment received, that is Tzedakah. Since Kollel people must learn Torah in return for the payments they receive, they are NOT living at all off Tzedakah. Not any more than any person who renders services for payment received.

    (As an aside, incidentally and for the record, the Halachah is that you are nowadays ALLOWED to live off Tzedakah to learn (see the Ramah and Shach in Hilchos Talmud Torah).

    Regarding maaser – The maaser goes to the Yeshiva. The Yeshiva pays the Kollel. The Maaser is only going to them in return for and under the condition that they learn. This is not living off Tzedakah. This is a receipt of money in exchange for doing something, which is not the same as living off Tzadakah. This is providing a service that is considered valuable to those who provide the payment. it is no different than a singer getting money to sing or a baseball player getting money to play. The fact that you are allowed to use your maaser to support these fellows is no different than the fact that you are allowed to use your maaser to support Tzedakah organizations that pay fundraisers, administrators and other workers. Maaser is not the same as Tzedakah. Nobody would consider the head of Hatzolah as someone who “lives off tzedakah” even though he is paid through donations given to the organization. The same thing applies to someone who learns, and because he learns, is supported by whatever source, including maaser.

    3) There is an obligation on every Jew to become as great in Torah as he is able. There is also an obligation to not steal, or not to put yourself in a situation where you will have to steal. Or to make sure the Torah scholars live respectfully and not as beggars. The ideal situation is to have both.

    But the standard of livelihood required is bare minimum. “Kach hi darkah shel torah – pas b’melach tochal etc.” — Bread salt and water – if you have that, you have parnasah. The Rambam writes that a typical Baal Habayis works 3 hours a day and learns 8.

    This is what a “working person” is. Three hours a day. 8 hours learning.

    What in the world does that have to do with today’s working man’s lifestyle where he works 8 hours a day and almost never even learns 3? It proves nothing that Chazal endorsed working, since working in those days meant learning 8 hours a day.

    4) The Rambam praises those who learn all day and don’t have jobs, as the elite “Shevet Levi” of our days. Clearly, even if working is endorsed, it is inferior to those who learn. To reconcile the Rambam with your Chazals, you can choose any of the commentaries available, some of which explain it similar to above.

    5) If learning in Kollel is against the Chazals about Melachah and Derech Eretz, then so is being a Rebbi or a Rav. See the Rama YD 246:6. He brings your Chazals and says that therefore nobody can be a paid Rebbi or a Rav either, since he relies on the congregation. But then he brings dissenting opinions, and rules that the custom is that Torah scholars do benefit from their learning, by support from the community.

    Then he brings other opinions that the community should support its Torah scholars even to the point of affluence.

    The Rama then says it is a Midas Chasidus – praiseworthy – for someone who can become a Gadol B’Torah and make an independent living, but continues that not everyone is capable of this. It is clear that he is saying that if you have a choice between becoming a Godol B’Torah or making a living, becoming a Godol B’Torah comes first.

    The Shach on the spot points out that the Halacha always follows the Minhag and the Minhag is like those opinions that one may depend on the community to support him in order to learn. He says that this is because of the Halachah of Ais La’Asos, meaning, even if it is theoretically prohibited to rely on the community, but because nowadays we cannot do both, become great in Torah and make independent livings, the right thing to do is to learn Torah and be supported.

    He continues by saying that if someone spreads Torah and spends all his time learning and teaching, even if he has a skill with which to make a living, it would be wrong of him not to allow the community to support him, since this way he would be able to spend his time learning and teaching, rather than working.

    See, its very nice to make an independent living, but it is more important to become a Godol B’Torah. If you cant have both, then Torah is the right choice. Whatever advantages there is in making money, they do not come close to those of becoming a great Torah scholar.

  25. #20: Of course I don’t think the world is the same as 100 years ago. My mother spent her childhood in Europe-believe me, I KNOW. But my grandfather got up at 4am every day, no matter what, to learn. The day after his children’s weddings he got up at 4 am.

    My grandfather passed away at age 88 when I was a child. So he lived a 100 years ago. And that’s what he did.

  26. #22 – “it’s the man’s job to bring Parnasa, it’s the women’s job to take care of the home”…

    That’s not so simple today, since most of womens jobs were eliminated to either a push of a button or buying it ready made. Does anyone today make their own jam or peanutbutter, does anyone wash clothes by hand?
    On the other hand, the income needed today is far higher than it used to be. The Steipeler Ztz”l writes in a letter that it’s important for a women to work today for her own sanity, for the above reason. (of-course every situation may vary…)

  27. #20 again: are you saying kollel children have 2 parents available? So their mother’s working instead of the father! But who’s more needed at home?

  28. 26: I don’t know exactly who he is, but someone posted teh same things on Yeshiva World under the name Joseph. People complained there that he posted way too many long articles, and it clogged up the boards there. Looks like he decided to try his luck here.

  29. MDshweks, you’re obviously a man. Motherhood + housekeeping is a full time job. Once a mother has 1 or 2 kids, she has enough to keep her busy all day without going out to work.

  30. To Docschweks: And if you read one of my favorite books, Zalman’s Menorah, you’ll see that parnasa’s a lot easier for men too.
    STILL, we may not have to scrub the clothes at the river, but we have to sort, fold, hang up, put away. Cooking takes time (especially for those of us who cook from scratch, bake, etc.). Cleaning takes time. The typical woman is also spending her day on carpools, appointments, chesed if there’s time (driving, visiting people)… we ladies have pretty packed days. If you factor in work, part or full time, and that unlike men we don’t leave our jobs at home because home IS (also) our job, it’s pretty tiring.

  31. I agree that Torah learning is the most important job one can have.My question is, does that mean one can and should ask for support for so many years and basically demand it.
    Did the velt demand full support from their in laws in earlier generations?
    Was this the derech for the last 2000 years?
    I am just asking, not taking any sides. I do happily support my children in their learning because I want to have a part in their Torah,but was it like this in earlier generations, and if not so, why not?

  32. People take the Amitz stories way to seriously. They’re not written for the American mindset and personally I think they reflect badly on Israelis. All he/she writes about is money. The stories claim to be true, but pleeease. Since I don’t consider these stories true, the details in this story don’t bother me. The author was trying to bring out a message which I feel is very important and that is that we’ve lost sight of the real role a women and what’s important when we as a society expect women to have a career all in name of their husbands’ learning.

  33. Silly rabbit, tricks are for Mishpacha readers!

    Do you thinl those stories are really true? They’re emesdik only in that the author has a point of view that he thinks is emes, and he wants you to read a story that drives the point home.


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