Feeling old is a real phenomenon, and it is a sure sign that you’ve got to get out. I’ve heard from people who stayed in kollel many years, all the time learning with great diligence, but once they realized how “old” they were, they decided to leave kollel and change their lives.
On top of all the other good reasons for a person to leave kollel, this can even affect those that are learning well, have good sources of parnossah, and feel fulfilled with what they are doing. A person’s tendency is to be drawn after others around him (Rambam De’os 5:1). A kollel by its nature is a group of poeple learning together. If a person begins to feel old, he starts losing his connection to the group around him. This causes him to slip away from the communal aspect of kollel, which means that he no longer is adding much to the kollel in which he learns.
Back when I was in kollel, I used to notice how one person that was much older than everyone else there would habitually come later than everyone else. This struck me as odd, since we were the ones with young children to keep us busy, while this man’s children were already grown.
I later understood why he was coming late. It wasn’t that he didn’t enjoy learning, on the contrary, this person would stay up late every night learning. However, with respect to the kollel, he was feeling too old. When you are one of the sailors, its easy to show up to the boat on time to get it going. But when you are just an onlooker, it’s fine to show up late even after the boat has already pulled away.
If you are staying in kollel longer than most of your friends, even if you are learning well, perpare yourself for the inevitable. There will come a time that you begin to feel old. Once you reach that point, it will become very difficult, even impossible, to continue being a valuable contributer to the rest of the group.Tweet
Filed Under: Deciding to Leave