In his weekly column for Mishpacha magazine, R’ Yonason Rosenblum wrote how he was appalled at hearing someone apply the term “bench kvetchers” to many of those learning in kollel today. His response: There can never be too much ameilus baTorah. Even those never destined to become maggedei shiur are a great value, and not deserving of being called “bench kvetchers.”
R’ Yonason, of course, was overreacting to the very real phenomenon that exists today in kollelim around the world. Indeed, all of his points about the importance of Torah study are 100% true. However, there is also a very large element in kollel that can definitely be referred to as “bench kvetchers”.
A bench kvetcher is a derisive term to someone who “sits” without an occupation instead of working. By its very definition, one who is fully occupied with his learning, even if he is not “earning”, is not a bench kvetcher. However, one who is in kollel by default, and is not fully engaged in Torah study, is a classic example of a bench kvetcher.
There are many reasons why someone chooses to be in kollel – some of them are noble, and some of them are not. If someone feels a true calling to learn in kollel instead of working, he will never allow himself to be a “bench kvetcher”. He will never let a seder slip by without utilizing every moment to toil in learning. His life is fully engaged in the spiritual pursuit of what R’ Yonason describes as “being of infinite value.”
But the many others who remain in kollel for less noble reasons – i.e. they are too scared to “jump” into the unkown, or they are enjoying living off other people’s money, or they feel societal pressure to be someone they really aren’t worthy of being – these are the people that give kollel a bad name.
Who knows, maybe if they were actually called out as being what they really are – “bench kvetchers” – that would get them moving along in the right direction.Tweet