Sunday, July 12, 2015

Kollel wife is insulted by a positive article about men who work and learn seriously

Mishpacha magazine published a very positive article about Charedi men who left kollel to go to work but are still very much involved in learning and learn a few hours a day. The wife of an Avreich was insulted by the article and wrote the following response:

מיהו אברך

רבקה ח ירושלים

אני לא קוראת קבועה של העיתון, אבל קניתי אותו בגלל הכתבה על אנשים שתורתם אומנותם במובן שגם הם לומדים שעות וגם עובדים

אני נשואה לאברך חשוב - אנחנו חיים, שורדים, ומתחתנים ילדים, והכתבה הזה השאיר אצלי טעם חמוץ. אינני יודעת למה, אבל אולי כי הרגשתי שיש בה משום זלזול בתלמידי חכמים אמיתיים כמו בעלי שמוסרים את הנפש לתורה,שלומדים כל החיים, שנשארים בכולל והם אברכים אמיתיים
אני לא יודעת להסביר בדיוק, כי מובן שזה תופעה מבורכת אבל לא על חשבון אנשים כמו בעלי וחביריו

אני כותבת לכם בסערת נפש. אני מורה בסימנר מספר שעות בשבוע, ואני תוהה מה לומר לתלמידות בעקבות כתבה כזו אם השאלה תעלה

אשמח לשמוע דעות בעניין הזה ומה אומרת דעת תורה על זה

I am not a regular reader of the magazine but I bought it because of the article about the people who "their profession is torah", in the sense that they learn hours a day while also working.

I am married to an important Avreich - we live, we survive, we are marrying off children, and this article left a bitter taste in my mouth. I don't know why, but maybe because I felt that there was disrespect for real Talmidei Chachamim like my husband who gives his soul to Torah, learns his whole life, and stays in kollel and these are the real Avreichim. I don't know how to explain this exactly, because it is clear that this a good phenomenon but not on the backs of people like my husband and his friends.

I am writing to you with a lot of trepidation. I am a teacher in a high school a few hours a week and I don't know what to tell the girls about this article if the subject comes up. 

I would be happy to hear other opinions on this subject as well as what "Daas Torah" has to say about this.

A few comments about the letter:

  1. I don't understand why it is disrespect to her husband to show respect for people who work and learn. Respect is not a zero sum game.
  2. She states that her husband and his friends are the real Talmidie Chachamim implying that people who work are not Talmidie Chachamim and can't become Talmidei Chachamim. While in most cases this is true, there have been people like the Chayei Adam, R' Kehati (Kehati Mishnayos) , and others who worked and were still Talmidei Chachamim. 
  3. Her husband has been sitting in Kollel for more then 20 years (they are marrying off kids) and is an important Avreich, and yet his wife doesn't consider his opinion Daas Torah. You would think that an important Avreich who has been sitting and learning for the past 20+ years and gives his soul to Torah would have "Daas Torah", otherwise what has he been doing this whole time?
Where does this attitude come from? I think it is comes from fear of the slippery slope. If people realise that you can leave kollel and still be a Talmid Chacham, still learn seriously, then they are afraid that the kollels will empty out. Why stay in kollel when you can work and make a living and still learn? Therefore, no respect can be given to people whole left kollel even if they are worthy of respect because of the slippery slope.