WWRAS-What would R’ Aharon zt”l say?

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    Since the peirah of R’ Ahron 60 years ago Lakewood has morphed into a city that would surely shock R’ Aharon Kotler if he would rise from the grave today and visit it. Surely he would marvel at the sheer numbers of kollel yungerlight and the numbers in the yeshivos and Bais Yaakovs. My guess is that the rally in Philadelphia today will focus a lot on Lakewood being the fulfillment of R Aharon’s dream.

    But is it?

    Yes, there are a lot of great amazing things to say about the community and the yeshiva but I don’t hear about anyone addressing the negatives. Many of these are interrelated

    A) Materialism: The average kollel family lives a more materialistic lifestyle than a bal habos of 30 years ago and even of a bal habos of the average “out of town” family today. The problem is that the needs are much higher now in a way that it is a detriment to ruchniyus.

    B) Entitlement/expectations: The society has created a system that puts undue pressure on parents to support children in kollel even in cases where children don’t need it and parents can’t afford it.

    C) Lack of Mesorah and guidance: The only Rebbe most Kollel yungerlight have are from their High School early Bais Medrash days. There is hardly anyone giving them direction in learning and life.

    D) Goals/Ignorance: How many yungerlight have worthwhile goals in learning and are striving to accomplish them? A guy can leave several kollel being totally ignorant of halacha, Tanach, 80-85% of Mishnayos and 90-95% of shas. What does the average guy really know after leaving kollel?

    E: Idealism/Achrayus: It is nearly non-existent. Gone are the days when the yeshivos were promoting and inspiring young men and women to go out and teach their fellow brethren through the country and the world.

    I myself am a product of the American yeshiva & kollel system. I believe that the system is producing products much better than all the alternatives out there. I also understand that there are many many exceptions to these issues. There are probably dozens of guys really being moser nefesh for Torah and accomplishing tremendously in their learning. Are these the exceptions or the norm? If more than 50% or even 40 or 30% that struggle with a few of these issues isn’t it worth addressing?

    Would R’ Aharon zt”l or any of the gedolim of past generations recognize a flaw in the American kollel system of 2022?


    The world has changed and so has Lakewood. It’s pointless to wonder what he would or would not have thought considering had he survived all this time he would have had different things to say.

    Would he be upset at all the small communal eruvin around Lakewood? What about the restaurants? When Rav Aharon was Rosh Yeshiva, only a minority of the talmidim stayed in learning/klei koidesh for their whole lives. Would he be upset that it’s now flipped, the norm is to stay in Kollel for ten years and only a minority get jobs that don’t require them to be called “Rebbi”?


    What rally in Philly today are you talking about?

    OP/Rocky: The five concerns you identified (other than the last one, which isn’t a criticism but rather your opinion of what should be) are, by far, the exception. And inapplicable to most Kollel Yungerleit.


    Rocky: You bring up valid points. I don’t agree with everything you wrote, particularly about ‘most’ Kolel yungeleit being more materialistic than the average out of town bal habos. This is incorrect. However, I don’t think this is the correct forum to address this. If you are sincere in your desire to create change, and your letter does give that impression, then you would do better to approach those that can achieve this. Anonymous letters on forums such as this one only give voice to slanderers and haters and do more harm than good.


    ” . . . Lakewood being the fulfillment of R Aharon’s dream.”

    I would imagine that being in E”Y would be the fulfillment of R. Aharon’s dream, at least that’s supposed to be the fulfillment of everyone’s dream. I don’t see Lakewood mentioned anywhere in Tanach.


    It’s hard to know what he would say because the entire world was different.

    My hunch is that he would be proud. He set out to create a Torah-centered society and that is exactly what we have now. He set out to create a culture of Torah learning as the antidote to assimilation and if you look around, it seems he exceeded way past what he could’ve even dreamed of.


    My guess, R Aharon would be looking at google maps, planning a remote location for a place where Torah learning can happen without distractions. Maybe WV or KY.

    As an insight into his thinking, one prominent South American Rav was thinking about moving to Israel. He asked R Aharon and he replied: I think the Jews in your country still need you. Maybe later, we will both go to EY … When many years later, that Rav finally decided to move, he encountered R Aharon’s levaya joining him on the flight from Paris to TLV and recalled that conversation.


    60 Years have past since Rav Aron pitirah and the whole world changed, looking at the overall picture Rav Aron would have been proud, a generation of holocaust survivors and fledgling frum community rebuilt yiddishkiet to a point were it is strongerthen pre war Europe obviously things changed from his original vision but so do most things, fact of matter is torah and yiddishkeit is thriving in Lakewood in particular and the USA in general


    He would cry seeing you waste your time inciting rechilus about our kollelim and masmidim who sit and learn all day. Maybe you should try it @Rocky.


    Rav Ahron would be immensely proud of what Lakewood has achieved and spread, not just through Lakewood, but throughout the entire United States and other countries.


    Unlikely he would be Tweeting or posting in the CR about the so called “evils” you enumerate. The BMG velt is unlike anything that the Rav Z’L or anyone for that matter could ever have imagined 60 years ago in terms of the resurgence of yiddishkeit in the U.S. You could have asked the same question about the gadolei yisroel in the Alte Heim during the late 1800s looking ahead.


    Well then, I guess that settles it. The CR has spoken. Everything is just peachy creamy in the American kollel system and there is nothing that can be improved. I am glad that I am wrong on all these issues.

    BTW-Guteyid-I have brought up several of these points to big Roshei Yeshiva and they agreed with me that they are serious problems contrary to the CR consensus. Their reaction was more one of throwing up their hands and saying that the problems are too big to fix. B”H we are wrong and may the bliss continue.


    Gadol > gadolei yisroel in the Alte Heim during the late 1800s looking ahead.

    I don’t recall a source, probably a British rov, someone was musing about Jews picking up various valuable midos from each country in galus. For America, he mentioned – scale, ability to create institutions that scale in size amazingly, from McDonalds and MSFT to Yeshivos …

    Without denying these successes of Torah institutions in America, we can’t be complacent just with numbers without worrying about middos and haskafos. R’Akiva’s mega-hevrusos were somehow less deserving than the four high quality students.


    I also presume that R Aharon would welcome advent of, at least, email and Zello. He wondered what was his punishment that he spent so much time travelling to fundraise for the Yeshiva and attributed it to possibly not being sensitive enough towards his students.


    ” Everything is just peachy creamy in the American kollel system and there is nothing that can be improved.

    Rocky, your sarcasm notwithstanding, there are obviously aspects of EVERY element of Jewish life that always can be improved. However, you seem determined to focus on the fewer negatives rather than the much greater number of positives.


    Dear Rocky,

    A. Rav Aaron Joey people that were learning despite being wealthy with a matching lifestyle. He could not understand it. He said it was one of his biggest kushyos.

    B. I think he would say it is worth it. While he would do everything he could to help the children make it feel worthwhile to the parents.

    C. Simply not true. They have guidance. Maybe it’s not the best guidance. Look how many Rabbanim there are in Lakewood today.

    D. Maybe dens short term kollel guys there is some truth. Long term learners know a lot.

    E. I disagree. The responsibility is there. Just there are less ideals today. It’s hard to see a cause worth dedicating one’s life to, in our times.

    It’s obvious to me, that the merit of today’s system is as a supporting infrastructure for that thirty or whatever percent.


    Dear Always,

    “He wondered …. punishment that …… for the Yeshiva ……. not being sensitive…..”

    You have the wrong person. With every if phrase. Except that he attributed every retribution to a personal misdeed.


    n0> You have the wrong person.

    How do you know that you don’t have the “wrong” person!? It is possible that multiple people complained about fundraising duties.


    Rav Aaron did not complain. It’s weird how you have your historical guesses about real and well known people.



    I disagree with you on a few points but let me clarify my standpoint. I Agree that that it is amazing that we have a significant segment of American Jewry that sees kollel as not just admirable but even as a standard. The fact that there are so many couples looking to start married life based on Torah is a wonderful thing. I just think that there are issues (not “evils”). I don’t think it makes sense to ignore the issues by saying “yeah but isn’t it wonderful that so many people are doing it”. It could be that I don’t have enough exposure to the real situation on the ground and if so, I will step back and shut up. It is also important to clarify that my points are exclusive to the Kollel system in America, not EY or the UK.

    A) It sounds like you agree with me on this point. My objection is to the standard that has been raised in the kollel world (new model cars, eating out, buying clothing shoes etc in the expensive local stores). If rich kids learn in kollel that is great. The problem is when the standards are raised and there is pressure on the “have nots” who end up living a higher lifestyle than they should.

    B) I also don’t have a problem with wealthy people supporting children in kollel. I think it is admirable if a family decides not to go to a hotel for pesach and decides to give the $ to their kids in kollel. I do have a problem with parents being pressured to go into debt or take on an extra job to support their kids. If the kids know that their parents are doing this I think it would be proper to refuse to pressure them to do this.

    C) There are a lot of Rabbanim in Lakewood today but there are also many more baalei batim and many more needs. Ask the average Kollel fellow in Lakewood who he goes to for guidance in both learning and and life. I don’t think most will answer “the local Rav”

    D) I would hope that if a man is in kollel long term (10+?) he would come out knowing something. But how many 2nd or 3rd year kollel guys are still learning 8-12 blatt a year without any significant halacha seder? If I am wrong great!

    E) It is sad that you don’t recognize the needs of klal ysirael. The gedolim of 60 years ago all encouraged their talmidim to to be moser nefesh for klal yisrael or at least be concerned. That meant going out and teaching and being mekarev. Believe it or not, the learned population of Klal Yisrael is still a small fraction of the whole. It’s not my issue. Ask any talmid of R’ Aharon, Rav Ruderman, Rav Yaakov etc. To think that we have solved our issues is sticking your head in the sand. If even 5-10% of the kollel population after leaving kollel would go into klei kodesh lishmah we would change the face of American Jewry.


    What’s your preamble, what Rav Aaron would say or the issues that need improvement? Because it’s possible that there are solutions that Rav Aaron would not have implemented or desired. Either one is fine. Just we can’t reasonably expect both to be simultaneously true or possible.


    Just to come in as someone that actually learns currently in BMG
    I’m B”H part of a nice size group of guy that are learning 10+ years I can tell you that a large part of them finished a majority of shas and halacha you can practically just ask them anywhere in learning and you will see the most Unassuming ppl have a Wealth of knowledge
    In regard to Materialism you only see what you see you don’t see what you don’t if I tell you that most of them NEVER went out to eat don’t lease cars don’t eat take out don’t have cleaning help some don’t even have cell phones and they come everyday rain shine snow heat
    And no they don’t have any money but they come just to learn

    Don’t be blinded by the stores and the other ppl walking around with all the extras Focus on the real ppl the ones holding up the world
    Yes rabbi Aaron is very proud that he created a place for such ppl to come and become what they are


    A. This issue may be more of a problem outside kollel. Even if it’s equal, it would require leaders from across the spectrum to solve it.

    B. It would be proper for the kids to refuse it. With some exceptions. But that is on the individuals. Which depends on those guiding them in shidduchim. That leads into C.

    C. Those that live in a solid neighborhood will mostly answer the local Rav. A large amount will answer the senior Rabbanim. I think your wrong on this one. A large majority of kolleliet have someone to go to. For the wives or the working fathers, not nearly as much. That’s a real issue.

    D. In twenty minutes a day, they cover the whole Mishna Berurah every couple of years. If you mean a serious three hour Seder, why is that the standard of really knowing? How many start off still learning 8-12 blatt a Seder? A lot. Especially if yeshiva is doing a misechta they missed. But it quickly changes. At five years, those that are doing a few blatt a Seder three times a day, are a tiny percentage. And it’s almost exclusively those that are mentally but out for it.

    E. My dear fellow poster, nobody is more aware of the issues than me. It’s a big factor in why I’m so far out of the system. Why is the Yeshiva so uninformed, as well as non idealistic? To me it seems like the yeshiva boy of yesteryear seamlessly interacted with his college and blue collar, friends, neighbors, and relatives. That doesn’t seem to happen anymore. The Yeshiva is really nervous about outside influences. That makes sense. It is their cornerstone. But when it comes to mature adults, the influence flows the other way. From inside the Yeshiva to out. In a positive way. Lakewood did not do a good job of promoting inter-lifestyle friendships within their expanding borders. So the non yeshiva crowd, has their own society. And it promotes the influences that the Yeshiva is so worried about.

    With these last lines, I wrote you one solution.


    Dear Das,

    Rav Aaron was too humble to be proud of them. He would insist that your crowd get’s all the credit.


    Das, I was glad to see what you wrote, it provides some balance to my comments:

    As a parent, if my son was clearly capable and motivated to learn at increasingly advanced levels, I would support him. If my son was only learning 8-12 blatt a year, I would push him to excel at something else. I would like to think that Rav Aaron saw Lakewood as a place where the Talmidei Chachomim and future Poskim can thrive, and their brothers who are not so inclined can be respected for becoming the best plumbers, doctors, etc. that they can be. And for those who do well in their jobs or businesses, I wouldn’t deny them buying nice dresses for their wives, as long as they also are giving back to the community.

    We could have a long discussion about the “excesses” both for the people who pay for them, and the people whose parnossah is dependent on selling them. The bottom line is that we shouldn’t waste time judging others on matters like this, it only spreads contempt for the community, and hurts everyone. We should all be happy with what we have and focus on our own personal yiddishkeit.


    Seventy years ago Orthodoxy in gereral and yeshiva velt in particular was viewed as a dying breed, now you have Kollelim from Portland Maine to San Diego CA. from Miami to Seattle and all parts in between, is it perfect? no everyithng in life can be improved, but when you see frum professionals who are very open about being frum and hold learning seder every day we came along way since the 1950s and Rav Aron would have been proud.


    Dear Orange,

    I support your last paragraph.

    It’s really hard to guess at what Rav Aaron would say today, because the growth we experienced, was unthinkable sixty years ago.

    Eight to twelve blatt a year is not a Lakewood invention. Rav Aaron insisted on two blatt a week in depth for just second seder.

    Rav Aaron was not there for the future poskim, or even the future leaders. He was only interested in Torah for the sake of Torah.


    Dear Common,

    When it comes to frum professionals, the credit is not Rav Aaron’s alone. Rav Moshe, Rav Silver, Rav Solveichick, the Chabadsker, Satmar Rav, and others, should be mentioned as well.


    Dear Rocky, are you satisfied with my response?

    anonymous Jew

    Whdn it comes to professionals, a large share of the credit should go to COLPA. A voluntary association of frum attorneys, it was founded in 1965 to legally represent the frum community in thier fight to be shomer shabbos on the job


    all i can say is you cant know what someone would say is unless they say it.


    > you cant know what someone would say i

    There are gemoras wondering “what would Rav say here”, most likely meaning that they re deducing his decision based on known positions. Same could be done here – as lng as you fairly take into account known positions. My guess that R Ahron would have moved is based on him saying that he established Lakewood on purpose far enough from the main community.


    @daslakewood if ur so shtark in bmg and bmg is great what are u doing on yeshiva world news??!!


    I have no clue what the point was i just saw the topic title

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