Tuesday, November 22, 2022

More reason not to move to Israel

The daily schedule of the Mesivta of Philadelphia is 8 AM to 5:30 PM, Monday through Thursday. Sunday and Friday are until 12:30 PM. And that includes limudei kodesh and limudei chol. September to June. https://www.themesivta.org/_files/ugd/b582bf_1d64503aaecd476bafaa5d4565a67a28.pdf

The daily schedule of a typical Charedi yeshiva katana (mesivta) in Eretz Yisroel is 7:30 AM until 10 PM, Sunday through Thursday, half day on Friday, and some have obligatory Motzei Shabbos as well.  September to July. This is Gemara only.

That's 8.5 hours a day versus 14.5 a day (the latter with a 2 hour break that many bachurim don't take because they are stuck at the yeshiva.) 5 days a week versus 6 days a week. So do the math, 41 hours a week versus 78.5 hours a week, the latter being all intensive Gemara study. 

There's strange and there's crazy. What goes on in Israel is crazy. The Mishnah says to start learning Gemara at age 15. Here at 16, they have them going morning till night struggling with Gemara, Rashi, Tosfos, and 4 to 5 more mefarshim. Then go home and go right to bed, get 6 to 7 hours of sleep and back to the grind. I know one place that is proud that it has a group of boys who learn until midnight! I imagine there can be individuals who can handle this. I imagine that there are very few. 

Rabbi Avigdor Miller asserts that boys must get 8 hours of sleep. 

Q: What should somebody do when he is annoyed by depression and sadness and doesn’t know what the reason is?

A: I want to tell you one thing I do know from experience. Many times boys in the yeshiva cause an upset in their nervous system because of a lack of sleep. In the dormitories you can’t go to sleep early. Even if he gets into bed, somebody comes in at 1 o’clock and doesn’t let him sleep. 

I once told a man about this problem and he went and took his boy out and put him in a separate room. He was a wealthy man and he paid money to the dormitory for a separate room, so his son should be able to sleep.

It’s very important to sleep. I myself know two cases of boys who didn’t go to sleep on time and they went insane, nit eingedacht. Yes, it happened. They ruined their lives. 

Also, married women who have babies, they must take care of their sleep. Without sleeping sufficiently your nervous system is upset. 

Now, once a person gets into a depression it’s not so easy to get out of it. And therefore an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. So try with all your efforts not to upset your system and get your sleep every night. 

Now some people say, “Well, I’m a porush. I want to be a masmid.” We’ll, I’ll tell you what the Chofetz Chaim said. Once the Chofetz Chaim came into the yeshiva in Radin at night, and he saw boys learning late so he said to them “Gei shlufen. Morgen is oich a tug.” He told the boys to go to sleep. “You can learn tomorrow,” he said.

And that’s the sensible way. That’s saving the lives of people by advising them, “Learn by day and sleep at night.”

Now, sometimes there are other factors, but one of the most general factors that I know from my experience, is this one of not sleeping sufficiently. 

TAPE # E-10

These are vulnerable kids, who don't understand the concept of driving oneself to a nervous breakdown, who are just trying to obey their ambitious yeshiva heads, many of whom want to make a name for himself for having the "top" yeshiva. When you sit behind closed doors with many (not all hopefully) of these rabbis who are running many of the yeshivas in Israel, you hear again and again how they want to have the top place. I have witnessed this many times. They want to produce gadolim, blah, blah, blah. When boys leave either the yeshiva or the religion, does anyone check on their welfare? Not too likely. I have never heard of this happening. In America, I didn't hear this kind of talk; although I imagine it happens there too. I recall there was a palpable sense of concern in many places for the welfare of the bachurim, that they stay frum and productive. I actually witnessed conversations like that. Israel is a whole different scene. There's something inhuman about it. Yes, some of the yeshiva katana heads see the grueling schedule as a good thing, as a devotion to Limud Torah. But still bochurim need sleep and need to feel human, normal. 

What's the connection to Torah Im Derech Eretz? In TIDE, we try to live a balanced and dignified live, with devotion to mitzvos certainly, with dedication to study certainly. But it shouldn't feel crazy. 

In TIDE, there is no imperative to live in Israel. TIDE applies wherever you live. And you try to live in places where TIDE is possible, probable. I won't say it's impossible in Israel, but it's pretty difficult to do that here. 


  1. Every day in my Amidah when I focus on praying for the pious, the scholars/scribes, I’ve always added a thought for fresh air and sunshine for them. It seems that is warranted.

  2. The Meitister Illui reportedly saw American boys play ball and said why didn't they let us do that.