Sunday, July 1, 2012

The Institution of Kollel


Normally this blog does not address social issues such as the institution of Kollel. But there’s an exception to every rule.

Rabbi Slifkin writes: 
When someone is in kollel, in 99% of cases, this is not merely a personal direction for their own life. It also means that they are raising their children with kollel as the expected norm, with no secular education, and with no expectation that they will be self-supporting. 
Let’s rephrase that.
When someone chooses to learn in kollel, this is not merely a personal direction for his own life. It also means that he is raising his children in an atmosphere saturated with Torah and yiras shamayim. His family is imbued with a love and respect for limud haTorah which will remain with them for the rest of their lives. The ramifications of his decision will influence the spiritual direction of his family long after abba/tatty is forced to leave the kollel in pursuit of a parnasa.
The above description is surely how Rav Aharon Kotler viewed the institution of kollel. Like any other institution, kollel can be misused, and is being misused in certain parts of Eretz Yisrael and America. The roshei kollel need to address these issues. In the humble opinion of this writer, kollelim need to enforce time limitations. There should be an industry standard. 2 years. 3 years. 5 years. Whatever it is. After the maximum has been reached, roshei kollel need to encourage their yungerleit to seek out a parnasa. Only the mitzuyanim can extend their kollel career beyond the stipulated limit and only the roshei kollel can decide who is a metzuyan.

Rav Aharon Kotler was one of the post WW II gedolim responsible for the rebuilding of yiddishkeit in America. When he first introduced the concept of Kollel, it seemed bizarre. He spent the rest of his life trying to educate American Jews about the idea of learning Torah l’shma (for its own sake). In retrospect, his innovations were instrumental in paving the way for the greatest explosion of Torah learning in recent history. Kollel may have its problems but let’s not forget how important this institution really is.

1 comment:

  1. There should be an industry standard. 2 years. 3 years. 5 years. Whatever it is. After the maximum has been reached, roshei kollel need to encourage their yungerleit to seek out a parnasa...

    I like this post. If the above were implemented, then I would feel much better about being in the Haredi system here in E. Yisrael. Unfortunately, it is not. Enough said.

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