Monday, July 9, 2012

With apologies to Jonathan Swift...

...I have a "Modest Proposal" of my own.  (And, no, I am not going to suggest eating our young--children are not kosher.) 
Everyone complains about the tuition crisis, but no one does anything about it.  Those who complain the loudest (and rightly so) are the middle-class workers who are going broke to pay tuition while the children of kollel parents receive all sorts of free stipends.
Well, I did a little research.  I talked to my friend H., a practicing Catholic who attended Catholic schools for her K-12 years.  According to H., Catholic schools employ monks, nuns and priests who are paid a pittance.  However, since their needs are mostly provided by the Church, the teachers can still afford their standard of living.  Also, it helps that they've taken vows of both poverty and chastity.  In other words, they don't need to worry about tuition for their own kids, nor will they take expensive vacations or drive luxury cars.
So, why not take this model and apply it to kollel?  Allow anyone who wishes to learn in kollel to do so, as long as they agree not to marry while they are there.  The minute they wed, they have to leave off full-time study and go out and work.  Additionally, they have to teach in the schools while they're learning for a small stipend.  Enough for any needs that won't be met in the dormitories, but not enough to support a family.  This solves several problems:
  1.  By disallowing marriage, it means that yeshiva bochurim don't have to decide between kollel and working.  They will not have to worry about their kids tuition because--they don't have kids!
  2. No more kollel wives means that more women can choose to stay home with their kids during the formative years.
  3. No more rebbes with high salaries--tuition drops.
  4. This also has an effect on the "shidduch crisis."  Because learning boys cannot marry anyone until they leave kollel, there is no more pressure for girls to attract "top learners."  The boys also have an obligation to support their wives, meaning that they will choose based on factors other than yichus and money.  (They may still choose based on looks, but we are talking about men here.  They're only human.)
  5. This will also eliminate the benchwarmer problem.  Because learning boys will have to live a hard life and will be denied marriage, the boys who are not serious about full-time learning will leave the yeshiva.  They will then be free to pursue a career or join the army if they live in Israel.
There are those who will say that I'm an apikorus, or worse.  That I don't understand that Torah study preserves the world.  I have no problem with Torah study...before and after work!    The Torah commands us to work.  Pirkei Avos commands us to work.  The Gemara commands us to work.  If you want to learn, fine.  Then live a lifestyle devoted to kedusha.  Just make sure that you don't have family responsibilities taking you away from kollel.


  1. Catholic schools also don't have so many teacher's assistants and overpriced principals. Most, if not all classrooms have one teacher and a school only has a principal. The assistant principal is usually a teacher. Teachers teach multiple classes. My stepmother taught math, English, PE and was the assistant principal. Well, only two at a time but you get the idea. She was also underpaid but didn't have a state cert. but I believe she had the degree.

  2. Um, just a few things to point out:
    > children are not kosher.

    Actually that's not entirely clear. D'oraysa they certainly are as long as their flesh has been washed and salted. See, the problem is that the Torah specifically forbids 4 legged animals unless they have cleft hooves and chew their cud but says nothing about two-legged animals....

    As for the other suggestion, the retort won't be "Torah preserves the world" but rather "We have a mitzvah to be fruitful and multiply and also a mitzvah to learn and you're making us choose?"

    Garnel Ironheart


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