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Apr 10, 2014

Court orders avreich to pay State 84,000NIS for skipping kollel

I don't know what qualifies something to be considered a landmark case, but this case sounds like it might be one.. This is the first time I am hearing of such an incident..

Basically, the State looked into an avreich who declared his status as "Torato Umanuto" - full-time Torah learning - yet every time they checked into him, they never found him in kollel. Rather, he was voluntarily running some girls school and was Director of the NGO.

The State imposed financial sanctions on the kollel this avreich was supposedly learning in, and sued the avreich. The State argued that the stipend paid to kollel people is is order to assist those people who really live the life of torato umanuto, where the focus of his entire life is his torah learning. The State therefore sued to receive back all the monies paid in stipends to this fellow - 7 years worth of stipends, totaling about 84,000NIS.

The avreich's response was that he was caught out of kollel on a spot check, but the rest of the time he was in kollel and they can't know otherwise.

The State responded to that saying they cannot be expected to attach a "personal bodyguard" to every person in kollel to track when he is there learning and when he is not. It should be enough for them to show via spot-checking a number of times that he was not in kollel, and from that it can reasonably be extrapolated that he regularly was not learning in the kollel.

The court accepted the States argument saying the State is not able to attach an investigator to each person who receives "havtachat hachnasa", and a reasonable sampling is enough for an investigation. The State proved that his lack of attendance was not a one-time thing or a chance encounter being caught out of kollel, rather he regularly was not in kollel.

The court decided the avreich would have to pay the State 84,000NIS to return all the stipends, and another 8000NIS in court costs.
source: NRG

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  1. OMG !! Haredi bashing !!! Shmad !! Anti-Semitism !!! Jail for tora !! The worst pogrom since the 1930s !!! Racism !!!

  2. The Meshugginer RebbeApril 10, 2014 5:54 PM

    A pity the Rema didn't write "v'yesh omrim shegneivah assura". Then this bloke would have understood that fraud isn't ok. (Apparently he never learned the concept of "hazaka" either: three strikes and you're out.) Kol hakavod to the prosecutors and the judge. May this be the first of many such victories.

  3. While I am glad that he got caught and taken to court, the fine is impossible for him to pay, and so is in the end meaningless. I'd like to see more creativity in coming up with a punishment that actually means something and will be a strong message to the kollel community. My first thought would be something involving shidduchim.... Any other suggestions, anyone?

    1. The Meshugginer RebbeApril 11, 2014 3:03 AM

      "...the fine is impossible for him to pay...". It's not a fine, it's restitution. A fine is a punishment (think "homesh"). Restitution is paying back (restoring) the value of what you stole (think "keren"). There's no mention anywhere of a fine. Halevai that that there were a fine as well.

  4. Attach his bank account, as they would with anyone else. He'll pay it a little at a time, just the way he took the money under false pretenses.


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