Tuesday, November 03, 2009

support local institutions first

The 5Towns this past week and upcoming week seems to be playing host to an influx of Rebbes of a variety of stripes and flavors, among them the Toldos Avraham Yitzchok. No matter what the hashkafa of the R' Ahrele descendents or other visitors, I don't believe withholding funds from a soup kitchen or a hungry family is right -- we can discuss our hashkafic differences after first making sure everyone has dinner on the table and a roof over their head. But I do think the invitations which bring these travelling circuses to town are wrong.

We have hungry people even in the 5Towns, the land of rich and plenty. There is a Tomchei Shabbos that does a weekly route and always can use volunteers and funds. We have people suffering unemployment who are in danger of losing their homes and we have yeshivos which have lost the tuition $ and support these families provided in the past. I am sure the TA"Y kollelim (5, according to the color brochure mailed to my home) are wonderful mosdos, but what of the community yeshivos in the 5Towns and Far Rockway that desperately need support and funding? I'm not talking about institutions which are ivory towers for scholars, but yeshivos which provide a direct benefit to the community. Sha'ar Yoshuv runs dozens of shiurim a week in their community learning center, all free of charge; Yeshiva of Far Rockway is a community school with bochrim mainly from Far Rockaway and the 5T; Yeshiva Gedola of the 5 Towns is currently housed in a storefront for lack of a building and also opens its doors and offers shiurim and chavrusa programs every night. Why write a check to a kollel in Mea Shearim when the yeshivos and schools (and I can't list them all) right in your own backyard need help? What about "aniyei ircha", "achicha ha'evyon"?

Why is this encouraged? The answer is simple: because the "leaders" and Rabbis involved believe the pocketbook will never run dry, the pie will always expand to accommodate another shul, another yeshiva, another kollel. Of course, that is simply not true, and the struggle the community schools have to simply make payroll (and I am not exaggerating) as funds are drained off elsewhere is the net result.

Community leadership is not a democracy, and he who pays the piper calls the tune, so unforunately the car we are all in together will keep picking up steam as we approach the cliff ever faster.


  1. This post will surely cause offense to some people. Think of all the effort involved in bringing in rebbes from abroad! You obviously don't understand their position, and, therefore, you have no right to express a view that finds fault with another view -- unless that view is chareid. Wait, the rebbe is chareidi, so it's ok to criticize bringing him into town to spread his views.

  2. berel3:18 PM

    It is true that one's primary obligation is towards his own community but still this issue depends on the foreign tzedokah.The Chasam Sofer (I'm told)says that Aniyey Eretz Yisroel have a din of Aneyay Ircha.Rav Moshe clearly paskened that way in relation to Kollel America.IIRC I heard him make an appeal for Ezras Torah and comment that despite the Talmedey Chachomim in America, kllal Yisroel was always noheg to support the Kollelim in EY (e.g. the many old yishuv kolleim)Plus certain Israeli organizations are really Klal Yisroel organizations that transcend physical borders.Ditto for an American Yeshiva that all of America benefits from no matter where they live.

  3. Anonymous6:40 PM

    First of all, the TAY rebbe, even though he is a son of the Toldos Aharon rebbe, is very different. He grew up in Viznitz, and this very fact, although he is the older of the two, is the reason for his not succeeding his father. He is not hateful enough toward the "medina"

  4. Moishe1:39 AM

    Rambam has some very sharp words to say about people who collect tzedakah because they don't want to work - even if they are learning. In fact, especially if it is because they are learning.

  5. Moishe, if it is the Rambam I think you mean, didn't you see the comments of achronim, starting with the Beis Yosef?