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Nov 22, 2010

More Details Of The Kollel Fraud

It turns out that the issue behind the shutting down of a number of kollels, and arrests of a few people, for kollel fraud yesterday was more than just having people registered who were no longer learning in the kollel.

There are many young men, mostly among the hard-core Mea Shearim crowd, that refuse to take money from the State. Therefore, when they learn in kollel, they do not register for State funding - no stipends, no havtachat hachnasa.

Somebody realized this and say a gold mine in the making. They took that information, they got lists of names of all these "sikrikim" and other people who don't take money, they printed fake identity cards under all those names, and submitted all those names into the roster for receiving government funding.

They figured they would never get caught, because these people anyway had the right to take this money, and since they don't nobody would ever find out that someone took it under their names. The money was just sitting there anyway.

Lo and behold, someone found out. They almost always do.

Two interesting points that have developed:

1. the leaders of one of the communities involved in the scam, the kehillas HaMasmidim, has come out against the "sikrikim" in this affair, saying that the sikrikim are the ones who caused the chillul hashem by snitching to the authorities.

It seems the sikrikim found out what was happening and that their names were being used to defraud the State. They are always happy and willing to fight against those who oppose them (see how they have been destroying houses in Batei Varsha and Kollel Polin in the heart of Mea Shearim) and therefore took their information to the authorities.

I like how instead of being apologetic, instead of blaming themselves for doing something wrong and being seduced by money, they choose to not be apologetic and instead blame the whole thing on the sikrikim. They are basically sorry they were caught. Deflecting blame. Not only deflecting blame, but by not taking the blame and saying we made a mistake and should not have done it, they are saying there might be others doing the same thing, because there really is nothing wrong with it. the only problem with it is getting caught, and that was not our fault.

2. Rav Elyashiv has voiced his opinion on the matter, supposedly saying that if the story and details are correct, the avreichim who stole the money have a din of a rodef. He says this will cause a backlash against haredim in Israel and around the world, and nobody had a right to do such an act.

3. While many justify it, this specific act or in general the concept of stealing from the State, by saying that they take taxes they dont deserve so stealing from the State is just taking your own money back, Chief Rabbi Amar has come out strongly saying it is completely assur to steal from the State and there is absolutely no hetter.


  1. I think we should be even more aggressive against this. The names of the kollelim should be publicized, the "rashei kollel" should also be publicized and followed like criminals for 5 years so the public is warned against donating to any of their related causes.

    In order to truly prevent backlash, we need to do more than say a public "tsk, tsk" but really distance ourselves from them and give them consequences.

  2. Every day I become more ashamed to wear a kippa.

  3. Something I have found funny is how many in the MO world (of which I am part) are shocked, ashamed, etc. about this but at the same time have no problems stealing from other sources such as downloading illegal movies and\or TV shows, copying music, etc.

    Neither are justified but it seems that every group is quick to be moreh heter on themselves and criticize others. Is one really worse then the other?

  4. every case is different and involves different halachos, and has to be discussed and weighed according to the relevant halachos.

    but your comment reminds me of adiscussion we have regularly in our halacha shiur, whenever we talk about the issur or hetter to cheat on taxes, we come to the "conclusion" that in the US people say they can cheat on txes because it is a goyish government, but in Israel with Jews - no way. While in Israel people say we cna cheat on taxes because it is Jews who have no right to take our money, but in chu"l you have to pay. Basically, as the point you made, everyone justifies what they want to do.

    Point being made, theft is theft, and fraud is fraud, no matter how you justify it. even if you really believe it, that is only good until you get caught.

  5. There is no surprise that this happened. There are 2 major factors:
    1. The Gemara in Kiddushin ר' יהודה אומר כל שאינו מלמדו אומנות מלמדו ליסטות
    2. When your whole chinuch is predicated on dismissing everyone else and saying that everyone else is worthless, wrong, a sinner, etc. it is very easy to justify stealing from them. After all, if the government is רשעים etc. there is nothing wrong with stealing from them.

    For more see Unfortunately, the latest kollel scandal doesn't surprise me

  6. anon, all the mo people who I know who do "illegal" downloads, I do not know of one who honestly says it's legal. Most even openly admit it's their nisayon. Noone I know stands up publicly and blames the victim.

    THAT is the difference

  7. I know of Rabbanim who say copying music is permissible. Although they aren't my personal Rabbanim.

    Some of it is the more one stands up and makes a fuss about themselves, for example if daas Torah has such primacy, yet when Rav Elyashiv shlita states the severity of what they've done but suddenly what *that* Gadol says doesn't apply.

    In MO circles, most people don't make big public claims about their ruchniyus, nor do their organizations.

  8. The main point to learn here, is to follow the lead of these heilige Yidden who refuse to take a penny in zionist government funding — even though they are fully entitled to it by law — and follow their holy example.

    If we all would have refused the zionist money long ago, this kind of problem would never have happened.

  9. Ben Torah, I completely agree, if all those who don't contribute to the State would stop taking the money, my taxes would be much lower, please encourage anyone else in your community who feels the same way to stop taking the child allowances and other social benefits

  10. Max he probably lives in America.


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