Isaac Kaplan

"Is it any wonder I've got too much time on my hands?"

Monday, August 02, 2004

Rabbi Y's Shittoh

In my many years of yeshiva, I've yet to hear one positive statement regarding college. It's assur, it's bittul torah, you'll burn for it, etc. I've heard it all; and yes, I still went anyway. What can I tell you?

Anyhow, Rabbi Y's shittoh is quite the contrary: he holds that everyone should go to college! Rabbi Y is a big talmid chochom and so are his sons, who are rabbonim and rabbeim. Yet Rabbi Y, even though he knew they had potential in making a living by being a rabbi or rebbi, had his kids attend Touro. His take? You never know if you'll end up in a situation where perhaps you won't be able to earn a living via the rabbinate/chinuch. And just running your own business can be quite risky. As a result, he felt it best that they go to college and get a degree, where they would learn a skill and thereby increase their chances of getting a good job.

My take on Rabbi Y's shittoh? For most people, I totally agree. But should there be exceptions to the rule? Let's see.

Some people would say that someone who's totally engrossed in learning and is okay with living on a kollel stipend shouldn't go. After all, he doesn't plan on working (okay, maybe he'll go into chinuch), and considering he'd be in night seder if he wasn't in college, then for him it's bittul Torah.

However, after the guy starts raising a large family and has to put bread on the table, pay medical bills, etc. the kollel stipend may not be enough, unless he has a rich shver or a wife with a very good job (and if they have a lot of kids, her working may not be practical). So at some point, the guy might need a job. And will going into chinuch cover it? After all, many schools are in the red, and some are even behind on the paychecks. So chinuch may not be a solution. And without a rich shver, it's not so easy to just go into business. Besides, with a large family to support, can he afford to wait a while till it takes off?

This is where Rabbi Y's shittoh comes in. If someone has a degree, they have a good chance at getting a decent job, with enough salary to make ends meet.

Okay, but let's say someone has a really good business head. And he has the street-smarts and other tools to succeed in business. Does he really need to go to college?

Or take our kollel guy from before. But give him a rich shver. Does that change a thing?

I'll get there in part 2.


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