Based on this post which states in part:

Ramoh in Yoreh Deah, 246:21 “A person should hire himself out for alien work rather than requiring assistance from others”; “The man who is self-sufficient is greater than the one who fears Heaven”; etc.

...Here Ramoh drives home this point even further, noting that someone who decides to busy themselves with Torah and live off charity rather than working has desecrated God's Name and brought the Torah into disrepute. He adds that Torah which is not accompanied by work leads to sin and theft (presumably because the Torah scholar/student is incapable of making a living via honest means). Similarly, the Rosh, discussing someone whose Torah is his profession, such that he is exempt from paying various taxes, defines this person as someone who only takes time away from his studies in order to earn a livelihood, “which is his obligation, for the study of Torah with derech eretz is beautiful, and if the Torah is not accompanied by work, it will end in neglect and will cause sin." This reflects the normative position amongst the Rishonim in Ashkenaz, where financing Torah study was unheard of; virtually all Torah scholars were self-supporting, and even financing Torah teaching was only reluctantly permitted by some.

...after stating the primary view, that it is forbidden and wrong for Torah scholars to receive funding, then noting a "yesh omrim," an alternate lenient view that it is permissible for rabbis to receive funding, we finally have a further lenient view that even students may receive funding. However, Ramoh notes that it is still preferable for Torah students to be self-supportive, if possible:

it would seem that it is problematic for a student to be supported full time in kollel without making any sort of income himself, especially in today's age when there are thousands of people already learning in kollel.

What then is the halachic basis for someone today to choose to learn in kollel full time without working and rely solely on someone else's support?

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    In your title you do not assume an answer, but you do in your last line.
    – Double AA
    May 6, 2013 at 14:38
  • @DoubleAA the question is based on the blog post which makes it clear that the halachic basis for doing so is, at best, questionable. I'm seeking either a different understanding which disproves this or additional information which shows that it is clearly permitted.
    – user2110
    May 6, 2013 at 14:45
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    Related: judaism.stackexchange.com/q/693
    – msh210
    May 6, 2013 at 15:23
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    It is permissible to learn in kollel, it is not permissible to not-learn in kollel.
    – pcoz
    Oct 4, 2021 at 22:58

3 Answers 3


R' Moshe Feinstein said that while one can learn that it would be prohibited according to the Rambam, the custom for many generations was to permit it. Therefore, he said that one is allowed to take money either because:

  1. The Halacha doesn't follow the Rambam
  2. The Halacha follows the Rambam but the Rambam would allow one to take money if one needs to learn the whole Torah if one would be unable to understand what he learns if he works (though if 1. One learned the whole Torah or 2. He has no mental capacity to learn so that his learning wouldn't suffer by him working a few hours a day then one would not be allowed to learn in Kollel)
  3. One shouldn't be allowed to take from Kollel, but "Eis Laasos LeHashem" (we have no choice) so we must permit it. According to this approach, not only is it permitted to take money for Kollel, but it would be forbidden to "be a chossid" and work, since one cannot learn (properly) and work.
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    (FTR Rav Moshe Feinstein was quoted and discussed in the linked article.)
    – Double AA
    May 6, 2013 at 23:53
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    Does "Eis Laasos' apply nowadays in 2013? Sounds more like a measure for 1964 (when the responsum was written) when there wasn't so much Torah learning in the world.
    – Double AA
    May 6, 2013 at 23:56
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    I don't see why you say that. He says: עת לעשות לה' הפרו תורתך שאילו לא היה פרנסת הלומדים והמלמדים מצויה לא היו יכולין לטרוח בתורה כראוי והיתה התורה משתכחת מישראל
    – Double AA
    May 7, 2013 at 3:50
  • Not "learning properly" and working is his problem. I was by a siyum haShas last night done by an "avreich" (someone in their 50s but he only learns, doesn't work.) That took him 30+ years to complete. He just never actually took the leap and started focusing on "finishing" Shas. He also like many avreichim is guilty of "bittul zman". He learned much of it with the Hebrew ArtScroll as well. Meanwhile there are working people that have finished daf yomi many times and probably know it much better. Just 1 example.
    – Yehoshua
    Jun 30, 2015 at 11:30
  • @ShmuelBrin No, their learning wasn't "bittul Torah" the person is simply a "batlan" ... They don't really learn a whole day, waste a lot of time, etc.
    – Yehoshua
    Jun 30, 2015 at 20:02

Yes, the Ramah says it would be preferable if he could get a good income AND occupy himself in Torah study - but the Ramah concludes that such a scenario is not the norm so (Lehalacha the reverts to the original statement) it goes back to the original Heter.

See the Shach #20 where he elaborates on the importance of such groups so that the Torah should not be forgotten Chas Vesholom.

As far as the claim that there is thousands already learning - what cap should we put on it? Also, as the Mishnah says אלו דברים שאין להם שיעור.. ותלמוד תורה. Which could also refer to the amount of people taking it upon themselves to learn Torah non-stop.

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    I'd love to see a source for the last sentence.
    – Fred
    May 6, 2013 at 23:18
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    Regarding the cap: when the number becomes too large that the community can no longer support itself independently is pretty clearly an upper bound, but not necessarily the least such bound.
    – Double AA
    May 6, 2013 at 23:32
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    Also, Rama quotes a number of opinions with varying levels of excitement. Perhaps you can explain why you think that your read of Rama is the authoritative one.
    – Double AA
    May 6, 2013 at 23:42
  • Why are you answering a question which cites a specific source in its support by presenting the same source?
    – Double AA
    May 6, 2013 at 23:54
  • Because the Ramah and the Shach say that that is the prevailing custom. To your second question I say it is a misrepresention of the Ramah especially since the very end of the Ramah was left out. May 7, 2013 at 0:12

Rabbi Ovadia Yosef (Yabia Omer, YD 7:17) discusses this matter well. Among the discussion points are:

  1. The Midrashic views about the supporter and supported sharing the heavenly reward
  2. The later authorities' general rejection of that assertion, and that the supporter's portion is not comparable per se to the supported
  3. The medieval authorities' insistence on a rabbinical student being self-supported
  4. Later rejection of this ideology due to various historical criteria which were present in the later centuries, including criticism of the medieval rulings
  5. The latest opinions about ultimate rabbinical law being only accomplished whilst never sparing time
  6. The assertion that being supported will protect the supporter and supported from sin among other things, and that the latter will not lose out on any of his reward; the supporter will be reimbursed fully by God

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