Should a kollel man settle in Eretz Yisroel in order to avoid the tumah of America?
It depends on something that a rosh yeshiva from Eretz Yisroel once told me. A rosh yeshiva from Eretz Yisroel was once here about forty years ago and he told me the following: “It depends where you go in Eretz Yisroel. Certain places in Eretz Yisroel it’s the same as going to Chicago,” he said. If you go to the good places, then it’s worth going. But the places have to be better than here. And you have to know that certain places in Eretz Yisroel are not much better.
And therefore, certainly, if you can improve your spiritual status, why not? But you have to think about the future of your children. In Eretz Yisroel it’s always a problem of the draft, dealing with the army, and you have to know what to do when your children get of age. And so, even though there are ways and means of avoiding it, but it’s not so simple. And therefore if you’re able to find a good place, and you’re capable of coping with the difficulties there – there’s the matter of parnasa too – so anything that will help you improve your spiritual status, why not?
And the same question is, to move, let’s say, from Westchester to Boro Park, that’s also important. Before you go to Eretz Yisroel there are many good places right here in Brooklyn that you could be. You could move closer to the yeshivos! And therefore the rule is מעלין בקודש ואין מורידין. If you can improve yourself, then by all means.
When Rav Yisroel Salanter was asked this question, so he advised the person not to go to Eretz Yisroel because you couldn’t make a living there. It’s a remarkable fact. He said that it’s of the utmost importance to be able to have parnasa. And to go there and to endanger the health of your family by lack of a livelihood — and then you’ll have to look for help from relatives in other countries; you’ll write letters, and in the meantime people become ill in the family and they don’t get medical help. Sometimes people die young as a result. People can die just from the overwhelming pressure of debt — their heart gives out. And therefore, Rav Yisroel advised against moving to Eretz Yisroel.
Now, I wouldn’t say that today because today it’s easier to live in Eretz Yisroel than it was in his days. But in his days he advised people against it – it’s a fact. Unless you were able to guarantee that you’d have relatives to support you while you’re there.
Now, when we come to the question of parnasa, I must say something about this. A person, asked me yesterday about his career. He’s not yet married and he was telling me that he wants to learn, to sit in kollel. So I told him the first thing is you have to make a living. If you’re a man of twenty-seven years old then you should think about parnasa. Right now! That’s number one! You have to think about getting married. That comes first. You can’t sit down now and start learning and postpone marriage. You’ll get a girl later who is too old to have children.
And so so you have to think about a practical way of living. Hakodosh Boruch Hu expects of you to be mikayeim the first mitzvah of the Torah: והלא נברא העולם אלא לפריה ורביה – you have to have children. And in order to do that you have to make a living and therefore it’s called avodas Hashem. When a man works, even though he works from nine to five, he should know it’s the ratzon Hashem in order to build up a Jewish home. That’s number one!
And then if he wants he can add to his program. He can do a lot of learning even if he’s a working man. A man once told me that he’d like to stop working and go into a kollel. So I said, “You know what? Go away every Sunday from your home and go into a kollel. Every Sunday pack up a lunch and sit in the kollel all day long.” He never did it. So אגלאי מילתא למפרע, it showed that he didn’t want to sit in kollel. He wants to stop working, that’s what he wants.
And in in case you have to work on a Sundays, so Friday nights take a nap and then get up to learn. Long Friday nights—four hours—you can learn so much. Shabbos afternoon, on the long summer Shabbosim, you can learn so much. And motza’ei Shabbos too; most people don’t work motza’ei Shabbos. There are so many opportunities to learn. So if you use the little opportunities that you have now, so Hakodosh Boruch Hu might see where your heart is aiming and He might help you more. המקבל עליו עול תורה פורקים ממנו עול מלכות ועול דרך ארץ — If you try to learn with the little time that you have right now, then you’ll be rewarded that Hakodosh Boruch Hu will give you more time later in life. But you have to do it right now.
TAPE # 934 (September 1994)