The husband, who’ll I’ll call Eitan, didn’t have perfect English, but his English was certainly good enough to converse on a number of topics, including Torah.
Today, my husband told me the shocking news: Eitan got thrown out of his English-speaking kollel because the ‘Rav’ (those speech marks are deliberate….) who is running it decided his English wasn’t good enough, and that Eitan wasn’t the sort of student this kollel wants to attract.
Dear reader, this kollel consists of five students, and has been steadily diminishing in size over the last two years ever since this new ‘Rav’ took over. My husband happens to know the ‘Rav’ of this kollel, so he went to find out what the problem with ‘Eitan’ was.
In a nutshell, the only problem with Eitan was that he didn’t fit the ‘Rav’’s arrogant and delusional ideas of what ‘his’ kollel should look like. This ‘Rav’ wants a kollel full of the best Torah learners in the world! Full of frum-from-birth matmids! Full of pilpul, and thumbs, and most importantly of all, full of people who think this ‘Rav’ is the best thing since sliced bread, and who don’t require any time, effort or investment from their ‘teacher’.
Eitan, as a baal teshuva new immigrant to Israel, simply doesn’t fit this profile. Never mind, he has the sort of emuna that would make the Baal Shem Tov proud. Never mind, he’s been getting up for Chatzot (the midnight lament) for months - something that I GUARANTEE this ‘Rav’ has never done in his life.
Eitan is one of the most sincere spiritual-seekers I’ve ever met. Yet this ‘Rav’ in his arrogance, kicked him out of his kollel solely because he’s not (yet…) an expert in Gemara.
(Here’s something else: Even if he stayed in that kollel for 50 years, he would still NEVER become an expert in the Gemara, because that kollel ‘Rav’ is also a really bad teacher.)
When my husband told me all this, I got so flipping mad! I couldn’t believe that a supposedly ‘frum’ Jew could be so arrogant, insensitive and plain horrible to kick someone so unabashedly good out of their kollel, simply because he doesn’t fit the delusional mould this ‘Rav’ has in mind for his students.
The question is, what to do about this? You see, my husband knows this ‘Rav’’s boss, and that Rabbi would be completely aghast if he knew what this Kollel Rav is doing. At this moment, I’m of the view that my husband should go and fight for ‘Eitan’ to be reinstated. You see, this is not the first time it’s happened.
Two years’ ago, there was another very bright student who I’ll call Michael who this kollel ‘Rav’ also took a dislike to, primarily because he had some learning difficulties, and required some extra time and effort that this ‘Rav’ simply didn’t want to give him.
In that case too, this ‘Rav’ cooked up a whole big story about why this guy wasn’t good enough for the kollel - but God made it that another more senior student took Michael under his wing, poured a lot of time and attention in to him, and encouraged him to stay at the yeshiva.
I can honestly say that Michael would have sunk like a stone if this other student hadn’t given him a hand to pull him back up on his feet.
Eitan and Michael are real people. When they get kicked out of their kollels, or their yeshivas - not because they are spiritually-dodgy, or nasty people, or don’t want to learn Torah - that reflects SO badly on the whole of the Jewish nation.
Do you think God has any pleasure at all from a kollel that puts ‘learning’ over people?!
The two go together, and cannot be separated. There are so many stories in the Gemara of big rabbis who sat 200 times, even, with their ‘dumb’ student until the dumb student finally got what they were learning. And more often than not, those ‘dumb’ students turned into the next generation’s biggest Torah luminaries.
That’s how real rabbis act. By contrast, ‘Erev Rav’ type rabbis who are only interested in their prestige, and in how much kudos they get from teaching in ‘their’ kollel don’t act like that at all. People don’t matter to faker ‘rabbis’, which is why they are so quick to press the eject button.
Woe to the ‘Rav’ that kicks these students out, and woe to his institution. God wants us to learn Torah in order for us to strengthen our characters and improve our bad middot. Learning Torah is not an end in itself, it’s the primary tool of building our souls and our connection to God, and developing into a God-fearing Jew.
When people like this ‘Rav’ make the externals of learning Torah a priority over developing their student’s souls, they turn the Torah into a potion of death, instead of a potion of life. They literally kill people with their elitism, and their arrogance and their false notions of what learning Torah really is all about.
I don’t know about you, but I can’t stand these people anymore!
Sigh. I hate all the fighting. But if we don’t start to stand up to these nasty, selfish, elitist ‘rabbis’ and their warped ideas, they’ll force more and more ‘Eitans’ and ‘Michaels’ off the Derech, and I know for sure that THAT is the last thing God wants.