Kollelim Are Sprouting Like Mushrooms

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    It’s unfortunate that Lieberman has chosen to use the contempt among many for Kollelim for political purposes. Personally I believe government-sponsored Kollel participation should be a privilege extended to a select few thousand budding talmidei chachomim, with preference given to those enlisted in the IDF. Then the question becomes, who gets to decide which yeshivas are worthy? We have the same dilemma in the US with elite state-sponsored college programs. So government avoids the problem by extending entitlements to anyone with their hand out. There has to be a better way.


    Even within the camp that supports using Zionist money for Torah learning, Rav Schach advised against accepting 100% funding from Begin government, warning that there will be a time when someone like Lieberman will “want his money back” and the system needs to be able to survive that. Why “frum” people do not listen to gedolim, I don’t know.

    But the expression may be a hidden brocha, like this is a brocha of being like fish, or better to be like reed than like cedar (Yevamos). Mushrooms grow everywhere, often stay together, require water (Torah) and not a lot of government support.


    i always liked the idea of letting only Leviim get public funding for learning. and maybe allow individual levi to swap places with a yisroel if they want.

    wouldn’t this system keep everyone happy?


    No. Ridicules idea.


    Just a couple of points, purely from a financial prospective:
    1. The government “datot” make up only a portion of kollel’s budget.
    The kollel still needs to fundraise the rest. A very large percentage of the kollel budget comes from overseas donations; even more than that from datot according to what I read a few years ago.
    Thus encouraging kollelim helps encourage overseas investments in Israel.

    2. The chareidi system in Israel is responsible for most of the chutznik learning in Israel as well.
    Chutznik yeshivaleit don’t just bring overseas donations to kollelim.
    They also require overseas support to live here. Many thousands of chutznikim have their rent or mortgages paid by family overseas.
    Likewise, their families are more likely to travel to Israel if their children are here.
    Chutznik weddings and simchas result in tremendous financial income for israelis.

    I remember taking a taxi about 15 years ago, when Tommy lapid (yair’s father) was promoting his “cut support for Torah learning” pitch.
    The secular driver was fuming at lapid.
    “During the recent intifada (2001) when tourism dropped, the only reliable visitors were the lomdei Torah!
    They still came to study and visit, as did their families. If it weren’t for them, thousands of us secular Israelis would have lost our jobs! How short-sighted and ingracious can a person be!” He went on to say more things about lapid that I can’t share here…

    The point is that even without appreciating the intrinsic value of limud hatorah; or even the role the kollel system plays in creating the rabbonim and teachers for world-wide Jewry; even from a purely pragmatic view, financially the kollel system is a benefit to Israel and should be promoted by the gov’t.

    (This doesn’t mean there aren’t issues which need to be addressed.
    But we must be careful not to throw out the baby with the bath water.)

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