I am familiar with the following "titles" used for different types of Jewish schools. My assumptions (correct me, please, if necessary.)

Yeshiva - a "generic" term applying to all Jewish schools of all ages. Though, in many places, I have heard this applied only to elementary schools (see below.) I gather that this word comes either yashav - to sit or yishuv - "establishment".

Metivta - applies to high schools. I gather it's an Aramaic word, but I don't know its origin or "root form" meaning.

Kolel - college and adult program. I gather it comes from the word to mean "inclusion".

Why were these different terms assigned to these different age groups? Are these terms meant to define either some behavior or mode of learning that occurs at that age? Or are there other criteria dictating the usage of these terms?

Also, when did these terms start being used?


1 Answer 1

  1. Yeshiva comes from לשבת - a place people sit, just as כנסיה/כנסת - a place people gather. it is used in many expressions like ישיבה של מעלה etc. The difference from בית מדרש is that the later comes from לדרוש assuming there's a head that is constantly lecturing, where Yeshivah is more people learn equally.

  2. Metivta is Yeshiva in Aramaic (יתב=ישב)

  3. כולל is a "new word" and was used in הישוב הישן in Israel in the 19th century, it is quoted by Shay Agnon as "audience" or "public" (Even Shushan Dict).

Originally (from the sages to the last 80-100 years) they were not assigned to age groups (there were only Yeshivos/Batey Midrash).

Today we have KinderGartens (2-6), Talmud Torah (6-14), Yeshiva Ktanah (14-17), Yeshiva Gdolah (17-marriage) and Kollel for married guys only.

  • So today there is no distinction between the words Mesivta and Yeshiva?
    – Chaim
    Sep 16, 2018 at 15:02
  • It can be used as a gimmick, as it sounds more Yeshivish. Many try to distinguish themselves from the others to help the PR.
    – Al Berko
    Sep 16, 2018 at 15:04
  • Hi Al. I'd prefer if you can add something in this answer that may explain why or when there was a correlation of these terms to age groups. I know you said that originally it wasn't this way, but at some point, it became assigned to age groups. Shanah Tovah. Keep up those interesting questions!
    – DanF
    Sep 17, 2018 at 21:58
  • @DanF AFAIK there was no differentiation until very recently, as the idea of common education has spread all over the world and the Talmud Torahs became real (regular) schools under different governments.
    – Al Berko
    Sep 17, 2018 at 22:49

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