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Oct 25, 2010

"We Yeshiva Students Barely Study"

Ynetnews received a call from an anonymous haredi man. This fellow has been calling and sending letters to the media and to politicians and other people of influence, to try to get his agenda in motion.

Ynetnews interviewed him. Well worth a read. The basic idea, in brief, of what he has to say is that most yeshiva students barely study. There are some who do, but most do not. Most simply do not have the ability to sit and study gemara so much.

The anonymous fellow is trying to get support for his agenda that the haredi politicians should be rejected, and their requests and political deals should be rejected. He says it is their fault that the yeshiva students are stuck in yeshiva even though most of them should not be there. He goes on to call the secular people suckers and friars for supporting the kollel life, along with fighting in the army and putting their lives on the line, while giving the haredim the ability to avoid the army.

He goes on and points to some of the sham arguments made by the haredi politicians. One of those is the argument that yeshiva study should be considered equal to university study and get credits for it. He says it is a ridiculous argument because there is no supervision over yeshiva study - no tests, no oversight, no classroom hours, etc. You just register in yeshiva and the rest is up to you how diligent you would be or not. Another sham he points to is how many haredim are using the Internet. He uses that to show how the haredim are not really studying when they should be.

Is it true? Who knows. No studies have been conducted, there is no real oversight, as he says, so nobody really knows what is going on. In small yeshivas they have better control and you usually have to perform better, study, participate in shiurim, etc. more so than in the big yeshivas where it is easier for a poor student to hide out and get by without anyone noticing his absence or lack of participation.

However, this is article/interview is based on an anonymous report. Who is to say this guy knows anything more than what occurs in his immediate circle. Maybe he is in a lousy low-end yeshiva. Who says this guy is even real and not the figment of some journalists imagination who concocted a whole story, and throws in a  number of offensive quotes to provoke some more people.

Sure there are people who use the yeshiva as a haven and don't study much of the time. Is it a majority? Not in my experience.

Does the haredi yeshiva system need to be changed - in my opinion yes. People are locked in for too long, and when they finally have the courage to break out, they are unskilled and untrained and at a point in their lives where it is difficult to get the necessary training and skills to make a respectable living.

Are people staying in yeshiva not studying rather than going to the army? yes. Anybody who was ever in yeshiva knows that there are guys that should really be in the army because they barely study and use the yeshiva as a haven. But to say that most yeshiva students don't study is untrue and a fabrication.

Unless this fellow took a tour and studied what happens in each of a majority of the yeshivas in the main haredi yeshiva, there is no way he can extrapolate from his personal experience, if such an experience even exists, to society as a whole.


  1. he may be exaggerating, but his point that there is no oversight still stands.

    However, he is wrong to assume that because of that secular people are "friars". They are not supporting it, because they care that they are studying. Rather, because of political deals, pressure, and influence.

    There is still a reason for them to demand oversight. If there is oversight, fewer people would stay in yeshiva. That means less money and fewer army exemptions.

  2. It is human nature for people to require deadlines to accomplish tasks and tests to learn material.
    Yes there are exceptional individuals out there who can achieve without deadlines and tests but for the rest of us, they are indispensable.
    Neither seem to exist in the kollel world. There is no real curriculum, no time limit by which certain things need to be learned, no real testing to ensure a growing comprehension of the material over time. In many ways, they're not much different from us working stiffs who try to get through the Talmud on our spare time except they have all day and week to do it.

  3. I will add my "expert" opinion, based on my vocation - tech investing. I know the holding company that owns the site B'chedrai chareidim (www.bhol.co.il). This company owns a number of vertical social networks in Israel and in a couple of countries in eastern Europe (smaller there). They told me that bhol is their most successful property (most traffic). In fact, when there were pashkevilim all over Jerusalem recently saying internet is forbidden, etc. - their traffic DOUBLED. this of course is not a scientific study of the entire group called hareidim, but it shows that a significant number is defying da'as Torah and is "stuck" in a world that only social network anonymity can provide an outlet.

  4. I read this article early this morning and have been bothered by it ever since. My suspicion is that it is mainly the reporter's fictional work, with a few conversations with a couple of time-wasters outside.

    I agree with you Rafi that the system needs an overhaul and personally I think that if the Ministry of Education and Govt would leave well alone, the haredi institutions themselves would realise that there has to be change. What's going to happen now is that "davka" change will be slower because of the interference.

    If Yehoshua was a real person, I suspect he would have started with "Mishpacha" magazine before going to YNet - which he claims to not know as "chaz v'shalom" he has internet access

  5. I heard this young man on the radio. He was quite real and his distress at speaking his mind in the secular public forum was also quite real. I do not know how these young men can break free of the current tyranny without breaking the bonds of Torah and loyalty to their rebbeim. His best point was suggesting that the issue of being drafted into the army be relegated to a less central place in this discussion and that the first step should be helping the Hareidi community to dismantle the current system and let their young men enter the work force.

  6. Anon - if he wants to keep his own anonymosity, why is he on radio? Is it possible that it was an actor, or do you seriously think that it was him?

    I know many people who have issues with the Torah world but this seems a little too much.

  7. wow, this guy must be so frustrated. i really feel for him. he is totally stuck. none of us can judge his actions, since we have freedoms that he only dreams of.


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