Kollel is not BS


I know you’re going to spear me like Pinchas for saying this, but I also know that my points in this letter may be novel enough to make it onto your blog. I know you’re generally a good hearted guy, and that you seek to better the world, but I wonder why you hate the Yeshivish World so much? I wonder how you, the most forward thinker in all of the frum-critical blogs could jump on the bandwagon of Kollel-Lakewood-Yeshivish-Hatred? Unlike the Charedim rioting in Israel, beating up women on buses, and telling you what or what not to do, we are simply sitting and learning. We are not trying to force anyone else to take on this lifestyle, it is a lifestyle after all. We are not having parades, or shoving it down your throat.

When did all of this “Kollel is BS” ranting start anyway? I wonder if the same people, including yourself, would feel the same way about folks getting University funding to study things that are not useful to much of anyone? Did you know that there are universities that have doctorates in Talmudic studies? Why are they not the butt of your scorn. Why are we, who choose to basically live the life of a lifelong academic become the scorn of many religious and non-religious Jews. Where is the scorn for other academics? Should we trade our black pants and white shirts, for corduroy’s and tweed jackets? Would that change your opinion of us?

Just as those who study “useless” subjects within public universities, institutions, and whatever other folks wish to take “government handouts” to do so, we do as well. To look at us and say “oh they have 7 kids, choose not to work, and are on welfare” is fine, as long as you look at everyone else who does the same thing, yet does harmful things instead of studying intently on a subject they care about. Just because you don’t care about Talmudic studies, doesn’t mean others don’t care. I could care less about Japanese Cinema, Feminist Theory, and African History, but there are those that choose to spend years studying those subjects in order to understand them from every angle, while taking government handouts to do so. Why don’t you allow us some leeway? We are your own people, yet you mock, scorn, and continue to attack us for doing something that is akin to any other advanced study of something you fail to understand.

It is time that you stopped being self hating and started to see the positive side of things. It is possible that advanced Talmudic studies are good for the Jewish people, maybe you could change your scorn and analyze it for a minute. Instead of jumping on the Kollel Hatred Bandwagon, try to open your mind like you’ve seemed to open it with gays, chabad, and women of the wall.


A fan in Kollel without filtered internet

Dear Kollel Guy

Every once in a while I get a letter such as the one above, it’s good mussar, but there are many holes in the thought process. Most academics are not on welfare, they are taking public money’s that the state or federal government has set aside for education, arts, universities, grants, etc…It’s not every day that you meet a lifelong academic who has sought to put their family through starvation in order to study Japanese Cinema. It’s not every day that you meet an academic willing to do their research for nothing, Kollel seems to foster the idea that Torah is worthless – hence the reason kollel pays nothing. If Kollel was such a lofty goal and so needed by the Jewish people, one would think that those learning in Yeshiva would be paid quite well to do such things. Instead, the yeshivas rely on welfare, section 8, and wealthy parents to foot the bill. Where is the responsibility in that?

I think the biggest problem I and many others have, is the way that many in the yeshivish world are against government assistance, yet hypocritical in their acceptance of it. The same holds true in Israel, we don’t support the state, yet woe to the state that doesn’t support us. There’s also the fact that these Kollel guys that are in perfect working condition, have decided that thousands of years of Rabbis working in regular industry is a thing of the past. Rather than leave those government monies for people who need it, people who can’t work, they squander them for their own little gain. I’m not sure that Torah lishmah, trumps honesty and kindness, to me the kollel/welfare thing seems like the worst thing that an erhliche yid can do. I wish I could compare them to academics who study subjects I don’t care to understand, but in my case of joining the bandwagon of yeshivish hatred, it’s not got to do with the study materials. It has to do with the fact that they are not a system which can support themselves.

If Kollel guys were supported from within the community and not taking welfare, then it would be a novel thing. Apply for grants, raise the funds necessary to learn in Kollel, but to take public funding for something which does not benefit the public and takes away from those in real need, that I cannot support.

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