Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The Kolel Job

Received by email from an Israeli who wishes to remain anonymous

Many times we hear statements like this I'm sure the average Kollel person spends more time working than most other professions.

I would like to respond to this statement. This is actually not true at all. The typical Kollel schedule in Israel is something like this.

9:15 - 1:15 morning seder
1:15 (1:20 in the summer) - Mincha
1:30 -3:30 - Break
3:30 - 6:45 - afternoon seder
6:45 Maariv in the winter

A little over 7 hours a day learning with a 2 hour break in the middle of the day. This is the official schedule (the fact that many people learn more is nice but irrelevant), I would bet that most of the people reading this who work for a living would love to have a schedule like that and that they work much longer hours, I know that I do. I believe that the schedule in America in places like Lakewood is very similar.

Now let's factor in all the days off.

Erev Yom Kippur - Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan 20 days - 15 work days
Chanukka - seder ends early enough (around 4PM) in order to be able to
light candles at the proper time
Purim 2 days off
Fast days - 1/2 a day
Nisan - 30 days - 22 work days
Tisha B'av - Rosh Chodesh Elul - 3 weeks 15 work days

If you add it all up it comes out to approximately 60 days off in a year. The average worker in Israel gets 15 vacation days and 8-10 holidays, a grand total of 25 less then half. In America the average worker starts at 10 days vacation with 10-12 holidays again less then half.

In other words someone who claims that Toraso U'mnaso actually "works" much less then the average person who works for a living.

Of course, people will claim, but they learn night seder, Friday mornings etc. The answer is that is nice but irrelevant. I also learn night seder. The fact is that they are getting paid (and in Israel exempt from the army as toras u'mnaso) for the 7+ hours they learn a day. Night seder is not part of the job. Kollel guys learn night seder just like professionals learn night seder (or they get paid to learn at night as well in addition to what they get paid during the day.), because they want to learn Torah. Their job is 7+ hours a day. In Israel in hi tech the work week is typically 45 hours a week (9 hours a day). I would expect kollel guys to at least match that.

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