Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Can Someone Please Explain This To Me, Part II

A recent article in Hamercaz relates that "around ten" students in Israel were expelled from their yeshiva in Israel for learning how to drive and getting a driver's license. The Rosh Yeshiva decided to seek guidance from Rav Kanievsky on the matter. His take on the matter, as reported was:

Sources say that R' Kanievsky told the head of the yeshiva that, "A person who categorizes himself as a Ben Torah should not have a license, which takes him out of this category."

Of course, this is not new. The article notes that Rav Shach had already banned the practice of yeshiva students driving.

R' Kanievsky added that R' Shach had already said decades ago that this practice should not be allowed, because aside for the dangers involved, it takes people away from learning Torah. Therefore, he said, despite his anguish over the issue, the students should be expelled from the yeshiva.

Now, the article does not really give any context for this ruling. Are we dealing with high-schoolers? Students in Beis Midrash? Kollel people? And exactly how does being a licensed driver remove one from the category of a Ben Torah? How does it take one away from Torah? And is this something that is peculiar to Israel, or would Rav Shach and Rav Kanievsky say the same should apply to the United States as well?

I'm looking for an honest and simple explaination of this. Please leave any snark at the door.

The Wolf

Related Post:
Can Someone Please Explain This To Me...


ProfK said...

Just as a general comment, this ruling seems to fall in line with other rulings banning any modern technology--computers, cell phones etc.--which can be said to facilitate and foster independent thought and actions. Being able to drive a car might give students options other than being in Bais Medrash. It also seems like a control issue; students who can "get away" from yeshiva can also become exposed to outside influences, some of which may conflict with what the yeshiva wants to be dominant.

But you are right in asking how old these students were. I'd be less concerned if the students were 16-year-olds than if they were married kollel leit.

Pesky Settler said...

ProfK, what? Getting on a bus to get away never occurred to any of them before?

G said...

In Ner Yisroel the rosh yeshiva Rav Weinberg had a saying that "the keys to the car lock the doors to the Beis Medrash", which I guess is akin to the old line of Have Visa, will travel.

It is important to note that this was said in regard to high school students and bochurim who were both not in college or not dating.

Nice Jewish Guy said...

Yeah, that's right. Kick them out of yeshiva, where at least there would still be opportunity to influence them positively. That's (one of the many of) the problem(s) with yeshivas. Conform or get out. I was suspended and expelled (temporarily) from Yeshiva in HS for stupid things like playing Pac-Man in a shoe store. Better I should go home and suffer academically. These people are going to reap what they sow.

Akiva said...

Note the following Israeli cultural details:

- You can't get a license until you are 17. (No such thing as a drivers permit.)

- You must take 26 paid driving lessons from a certified instructor prior to taking your driving test. These 26 lessons cannot commence until you are 17.

- Traffic accidents occur at a rate 5 times greater in Israel than the US.

- Traffic injuries in those accidents are also at a higher rate (so not only are there more accidents, there are more serious injuries in those accidents).

(That said, since the distances travelled are 5x shorter than the US, the injuries per trip equal out to the US rate.)

- The cost of a car is double the cost in the US. There is a much higher percentage of older vehicles on the road.

- The cost of gasoline is also double the cost in the US.

- Almost all Israeli HS (male) yeshiva students live on campus (if the term campus can be applied to a single building or two). The normal pattern seems to be go home for Shabbos once every 3 or 4 weeks, and select yom tovim.

Pesky Settler said...

The Rosh Yeshiva asked about an additional boy who had also gotten his license only because his father was disabled, and getting around was difficult. R' Chaim Kanievsky responded that that student could be kept in the Yeshiva, but advised him to cancel his license anyway.

So he has the license for Kibbud Av, yet the Gadol is telling him it's Assur for him to do what he's doing??

Ezzie said...

In WITS, they used to not allow anyone to have cars, I believe; when I was there, HS students certainly could not have.

Anonymous said...

I don't mean this as snarky, but if the Yeshiva is so backward in dealing with the real world, they are doing the kids a favor by expelling them.

DAG said...

Ezz, I went on the first MARFI...before it had the MARFI designation. Night of January 19th 1989

Ezzie said...

My friends were on the last one. :)

(For e/o else - MARFI = Make A Run For It. Guys would drive to Chicago at night, hang out, and be back before Shacharis.)

Anonymous said...

I find this very surprising.

Sending bachurim away from yeshiva, he often said, is tantamount to dinei nefashos (capital punishment). Accordingly, he often refused to decide the issue. “Yeshiva _______ says that I’m ruining their yeshiva by not allowing them to expel their students,” he once admitted. “But what can I do? I can’t be the one to decide that they should send them away. Hopefully, Heaven will have mercy and these boys will leave on their own.”

I have often recalled this vort, and actually didn't bother reading the article because I figured Rav Kanievsky's approach would be the similar. Because of this I have not been receptive to those who call for tracking down and expelling those who misbehave at a demonstration or the like.

But we have the leaders of our Generation. I think commentor's above pointed out some problematic aspects of driving, but the Yeshiva's regulations are their regulations. I just hope that if this becomes a viable option for discipline that it is used against those prone toward thugary.

Anonymous said...

>The cost of a car is double the cost in the US. There is a much higher percentage of older vehicles on the road.<

Please. Everytime I went to Israel I saw nothing but brand new, top-notch cars. Unlike those back in Brooklyn, which were often all beaten up and dented.

I could never understand how they could afford it.

Mikeinmidwood said...

Maybe you didnt know this. Most kollels in Israel wont allow anyone to get a drivers license, if you do youre out. The bus is used for everything. The bus can be used to get to Tel Aviv, why dont you ban the bus?

mother in israel said...

I read in a haredi newspapers that if you are asking for a draft exemption to learn in yeshiva, you may not own a car. As I recall the article was about a couple who borrowed a car to go to a family simcha, and when the army found out it wanted to revoke his exemption. I will try to check this out.

G said...

(For e/o else - MARFI = Make A Run For It. Guys would drive to Chicago at night, hang out, and be back before Shacharis.)


Rebeljew said...

(OK, guilty on the snark.)

Lion of Zion said...

i fully support the rav on this one.

learning to drive is a VERY expensive endeavor that requires a big investment before you can get in the car with the טסטר. it's not a simple matter as in the US where you get your permit, have your father teach you and take road test. so where is a poor yeshivah student getting all this money from?