web analytics
August 2, 2015 / 17 Av, 5775
At a Glance
Blogs
Sponsored Post


Gaming the System

The idea of directing every single male in all of Jewry into a life of Torah study as the ideal (to the exclusion of any other productive endeavor) is anathema to the very idea of a Jewish nation.
F090915KG05

Photo Credit: Kobi Gideon / FLASH90

One of the more troubling issues for me about the current right-wing push for all of their students to learn Torah full time for as long as possible (well into their marriage and long after having a number of children to support) is the way in which this is financed.

I have long ago expressed my disagreement with this policy as it is currently applied. The idea of directing every single male in all of Jewry into a life of Torah study as the ideal (to the exclusion of any other productive endeavor) is anathema to the very idea of a Jewish nation.

I am not going to go into the details as to why I feel that way in this post other than to say that I do not believe God wants His people to not fully utilize all the individually different talents He has granted them. Every individual Jew is different with talents in a broad range of different fields. They ought to choose those fields where their talents lie.

For those whose talents are uniquely geared to Torah study – that is the best use of their time. But for those whose talents are suited elsewhere, they should find out what they are, utilize them that way and thus make a far greater contribution to God, Judaism, and the Jewish people.

The Lakewood ideal is to sublimate those talents into full time Torah study.

One of the terrible consequences of this push for every male to spend his life learning Torah is the material cost. This is most acutely felt in Israel. But Americans who do this aren’t exactly living the good life either. Learning full time means they do not earn any money outside of a meager stipend a Yeshiva like Lakewood pays. Those funds cannot possibly support them enough to put a roof over their heads, put food on the table, send their children to private religious schools (even those with very low tuition) and other expenses required just to live a bare-bones modest lifestyle.

While it is true that many Kollel wives work to support their husbands they rarely make enough to support their very large families. Sometimes there are parents and in-laws that help. But that too is not enough, and is drying up a source of income with every succeeding generation. More than ever young people are being convinced to spend their lives in a Beis HaMedrash well into their prime earning years.

One of the ways Lakewood helps its Avreichim is by teaching them how to game the system. By this I mean applying for every possible federal dollar available to students who need financial aid to continue their advanced studies beyond high school. One of the most commonly used federal programs is the Pell Grant.

The Pell Grant was created 40 years ago by then Senator Claiborne Pell to provide financial aid to low income students enabling them to access higher education. While these Avrechim do apparently qualify under Pell Grant guidelines I nevertheless find this to be a misuse of the system.

I do not accuse them of stealing from the government. But there is no way that the Pell grant was ever intended to be used as supplemental income. Which is for the most part how it is used.

A lengthy article in the Forward has taken a closer look at this situation. Here are some of their troubling observations.

Said Heather Valentine, vice president of public policy at the Council for Opportunity in Education put it:

“It’s not just about creating the access to higher education… It’s about making sure that students are… graduating and getting placed in jobs.”

I think that Lakewood and the rest of the Yeshiva world that promotes full time learning understands this. This is how they have addressed the issue:

Proponents of yeshiva education point out that critical thinking and argumentative skills that develop while poring over Talmud — not to mention grueling day-long study sessions broken only for prayer and meals — serve students well for careers in many professions, particularly business and law.

In her book, “Heart of the Stranger: A Portrait of Lakewood’s Orthodox Community,” Botein-Furrevig said the current CEO of BMG (Lakewood), Kotler’s grandson Aaron Kotler, told her that BMG has “a successful job placement service” for graduates and that many students go on to careers in “business, the rabbinate, academia, medicine, finance, law or technology.”

Is this not Gneivas Daas (deception)? I have no doubt that there have been and still are students who have attended Yeshivos like Lakewood and have gone on to a wide variety of successful careers like those mentioned by Lakewood CEO, Rabbi Aaron Kotler.

But to imply that they have a successful job placement service in the fields of medicine, law and technology when that is not the case is simply wrong.

I believe the opposite is true. With the exception of helping their students find jobs in Chinuch or similar jobs, they do nothing to support students seeking careers in any of those fields.

They don’t even approve of schools like Touro and consider a lifestyle outside of learning to be less than desirable. I will never forget the remarks Lakewood Rosh HaYeshiva Rav Malkiel Kotler made along those lines about Dr. Bernard Lander – founder of Touro upon his passing

I understand the need for Lakewood and similar Yeshivos to help their students find legitimate and legal sources of financial aid. But I do not understand misleading the public about how these schools live up to the expectations of helping their students find decent careers – when doing so is anathema to its philosophy.

If that isn’t Genivas Daas, I do know what is. Need based stealing does not justify doing it. Even if it is done for the lofty goal of learning Torah.

Visit Emes Ve-Emunah.

About the Author: Harry Maryles runs the blog "Emes Ve-Emunah" which focuses on current events and issues that effect the Jewish world in general and Orthodoxy in particular. It discuses Hashkafa and news events of the day - from a Centrist perspctive and a philosphy of Torah U'Mada. He can be reached at hmaryles@yahoo.com.

The author's opinion does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Jewish Press.

If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Gaming the System”

Comments are closed.

Binyamin and Chaya Maryles, uncle and aunt of Emes Ve-Emunah author Harry Maryles.
Current Top Story
Jonathan Pollard.
Dear Jonathan: A Letter of Concern
Latest Blogs Stories
Inside of the home burned in the Prce Tag attack in the village of Duma.

Reports of a dead baby, a devastated family, and indications of a gloating attacker.

Graffiti found on a building in the village of Duma.

In all the years (and this week it’s exactly 14 years) since our daughter was murdered, we have not found a single Arabic-language post, article, tweet or speech condemning that attack in the center of Jerusalem or the killings.

Inside of the home burned in the Prce Tag attack in the village of Duma.

Everyone is angry at the ongoing Arab terrorism, but what does murdering a baby have to do with protecting Jewish lives or furthering Jewish settlement in the Land of Israel?

Cecil the Lion

Tonight, live Meerkat interactive video tour and talk in Jerusalem.

The US doesn’t want Pollard & he doesn’t want America- release him with 1 condition: No return to US

Meet Republican US presidential candidate Kerry Bowers & listen to his message to the Israeli public

Amongst the Palestinians (sic) what is promoted and praised for its young people? Terror & martyrdom

“If you can’t negotiate with your enemy, why negotiate at all?” Great sound bite. The press loved it

The phenomenon pushing limits of Orthodoxy to the extreme left has no chance of becoming mainstream

Discussing, what should you do if you are feeling overstressed in your job and are tempted to quit?

Considering Esther Pollard’s group mismanaged his case, Pollard’s chances of parole are slim

Detention Camps for US Jews? Sounds farfetched but it did to Japanese-Americans during WW II as well

We asked the soldiers, what will you tell your children you did during the Disengagement?

The Arab terrorist murderer who murdered Malachi Rosenfeld,(HY”D)last month, was an American citizen

The “Stop Iran” rally was a voice of sanity coming from the American people, and directed at Senator Chuck Schumer who holds the keys…

Shalit Deal advocates: “Israel must do whatever it takes” to free Gilad; This proved deadly nonsense

More Articles from Harry Maryles
Woman_rabbi

The phenomenon pushing limits of Orthodoxy to the extreme left has no chance of becoming mainstream

open orthodoxy

There needs to be clarity about what is & isn’t acceptable in Orthodoxy; That should be the debate.

Imperative to get world’s Jewish billionaires to support Jewish education like their other projects

No legitimate Orthodox body in the States or Israel accepts “Open Orthodoxy.” They went too far.

Obama is not anti Israel. He’s just misguided, perhaps blinded by his desire to force a peace treaty

{Originally posted to the author’s website, Emes Ve-Emunah} The inevitable finally happened. Rabbi Avi Weiss has dispensed with his prior refusal to call his female ordainees ‘rabbis’.  I challenged him to stop dancing around that title with made up titles  (like Raba and Maharat) and he finally rose to the challenge. His motivation in not […]

Existence requires meaning. Believing all random and without meaning is a horrible fate for mankind

People see a healthy parochial school system vs an anemic public school system and draw conclusions

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/haemtza/gaming-the-system/2012/11/05/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: