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Feb 8, 2010

Avreichim sue rosh kollel

In an unusual din torah yesterday, a beis din in Yerushalayim decided on a lawsuit brought by a group of avreichim suing the Rosh Kollel for not paying their stipends.

Bechadrei reports about a kollel in Yerushalayim that has been very late paying the avreichim their stipends. Just like the kollel is going through difficult financial times, the avreichim are as well, and they desperately need the money. After waiting well beyond their ability, they put a lien on the Rosh Kollel's bank account, and then sued him in beis din for their money.

The Rosh Kollel immediately retaliated by shutting down the kollel. He said he will not have such avreichim in his kollel, avreichim with no middos. He then spoke to his main sponsor about reopening the kollel, the sponsor agreed. He reopened the kollel, without that group of avreichim.

Meanwhile, the case went to beis din. The beis din heard the case and ruled in favor of the Rosh Kollel, against the avreichim. The court canceled the lien on the account, and ruled against the avreichim saying the rosh kollel owes them nothing and their behavior is not befitting that of bnei torah.

Hey - at least they went to beis din to settle their dispute and not to secular court like some recent cases in Bnei Brak...


  1. Until the end where you wrote they lost, I was thinking, "Good for them!" I was hoping they'd win. One can discuss the idea of sitting in kollel some other time, but by all means they deserve their pay!

    Are they supposed to be more understanding since it's a kollel? Maybe...a little. But for how long? How long should their landlords be understanding? How long should their grocery stores? Would you have any sympathy if your company didn't pay you? Wouldn't you eventually sue them? So why is it bad middos for these men? Because they had the chutzpah to ask for money they were entitled to?

    Every R' Yankel and R' Shmerel thinks he can be a Rosh Kollel? It's not a joke to take people in, have them depend on the stipend and then stiff them. A Rosh Kollel has an obligation to his avreichem just like any employer does to his employees.

    So now the beis din says he owes them nothing? Not even the money???

  2. you know - I though thte same thing. But I read it and understood, maybe incorrectly, that what was bad middos was not the fact they took him to beis din but that they slapped him with a lien on his bank account.
    I might be wrong reading it like that, but that is what I understood. There isnt really anything wrong with going to beis din. That is what it is there for. The lien on the account might have been inappropriate even if it was within their rights to do.

    Again, I might be wrong, but that is how it made sense to me

  3. Wanna Saab is correct that many people think that it's a "good business" to open a yeshiva or kollel. I actually heard a neighbor telling another neighbor that he was opening a kollel because then he would get half of all funds raised.

  4. I think the idea is that learning in Kollel is not a job. Sure there is an achrayus on the RK to raise the funds. But there is not "money for learning." You are not allowed to learn for money. You can learn and the RK takes upon himself to try to support the avreichim. Every Yungerman should know this. Its not a job. Hence no minimum wage.

  5. Nice point Anonymous, thanks.

    Shalom what does that mean half of all funds?

  6. Rafi -

    Since I would have no idea, are there no contracts for avreichim studying in kollel? Is it simply a handshake deal - "You come learn in my kollel, and I'll give you some money every month"?
    Because, to me, it seems the height of chutzpah to renege on an agreement to pay the avreichim for their time learning in kollel, then go re-open the kollel with new funds and new avreichim.
    And who would go learn in this new kollel? Wouldn't this episode make anyone wary about their future checks?
    Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

  7. Shalom, I don't know what is the normal, accepted amount a RK keeps, but what we're talking about here is whether the RK holds his end of the agreement with the avreichim that learn there. And that is not optional the way Anon makes it sound.

    Anon, you make it sound like the RK only has to TRY to pay his avreichim! He's not obligated to? I don't think any avreich chooses a kollel where "maybe" he'll be paid. Why should he learn in that kollel when he can learn in another one that pays?

    As for not learning Torah for money, that is a whole other discussion. I know that Rambam, but take a look at the Raavad there. Of course they're learning for money. Want proof? Go to my previous paragraph. Ask any avreich (who isn't being supported separately by family): Which kollel would you choose - a kollel that will maybe pay or one that does.

    Rafi, I don't care if it's a contract or a handshake. That was the deal. The rest of what you say I agree with. For him to close and open again without them? I suppose he can fire them if he wants, but I can't understand why he wouldn't owe the money from before.

    Maybe it was wrong for them to lien his bank account without the psak of the beis din. But I have a different opinion here about who's the one with the bad middos.

  8. Hasafran - I have never heard of a kollel using contracts. It doesnt mean it doesnt exist, but it is at least no the norm. it is mostly just an agreement. I accept you into my kollel and will pay you x amount of shekels per month...

    wanna- I agree. I think they were in the right for taking him to beis din (the lien is another issue), and that is what beis din is created for. Using a BD does not make it bad middos.
    But with kollel there is also the knowledge and understanding that all money is raised, and sometimes kollels go through tough times where money is hard to raise. Yungerleit usuallly are understanding, as much as they can be. The article didnt say how many months "salary" he was behind, but if it was just a month or two, you will be hard pressed to find a kollel that does not fall behind by a month or two nowadays (not that that makes it right, but one could say it is the industry standard) and maybe then their approach was hasty. On the the other hand, if he was 4 -5 months behind, that is negligence and maybe he should not be in the kollel business.

    I dont know why this Shottenstein agreed to fund this kollel with this guy that has a bad track record. he must be connected.

    And I agree. Everybody in the industry talks and knows which rosh kollel pays no time and which does not. which opens and closes places like a tavern bar and which is stable. Any new avreichim must be relying on the Shottenstein name and not on the rosh kollel at this point.

  9. If the RK had money in his bank account, shouldn't he have used it to pay the amount he had agreed to? What happened to "Naata v'natata b'emuna"?

    How can someone whose standard of honesty is less than the Torah requires be an appropriate person for a RK?

  10. Shira - fundraisers normally take a 40/60 or 50/50 split on money raised. An unscrupulous RK is no different.


  11. Baruch AAEM"H shelo asani chareidi.

  12. I am not sure how this particular kollel operates, but unless it runs like a job (like R' Moshe Shapiro's kollel, where they clock in, have tests, pressure, must show up, etc.), then the guys have no reason to expect to get paid like a job. If it runs like most kollel's, there should be a risk that the money dries up, with less legal responsibility on the management (rosh kollel)

  13. Eliyahoo William DwekOctober 27, 2010 11:27 PM

    Any man sitting and learning all day in a kollel instead of earning his living - is a parasite.

    The Torah does not teach a man to become a parasite.

    The head of the kollel is nothing but a bigger parasite himself and an imitation 'rabbi'. If he was a true teacher of Torah, he would ensure that all those young men work at a trade or profession or job.


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