Religion Magazine

Calling an Avreich a Batlan - Good Or Bad?

By Gldmeier @gldmeier
One of the challenges of learning in kollel full-time is when you get thrown off schedule. Such as when the kids are sick or have vacation from school. Your wife is working and can't take off every time this happens, and sometimes you have to.
The situation is so prevalent that it even has now made it to being discussed in a Knesset committee - the committee for public inquiries, headed by MK Yisroel Eichler (UTJ).
The problem stems from the fact that the State has not recognized learning in kollel as working, thus the working mother is considered the sole breadwinner and not granting her days off as sick days for children.
Because of the committee's request, the Civil Service Commission has decided change the status of avreichim to the status of working fathers. Now, with both parents considered to be working parents, the mother will legally be granted 8 sick days for sick children.
Obviously this status affects and applies to kollel wives working in the public sector, not the private sector.
In the words of Eichler, avrechei kollel will no longer be considered as a "batlan" - a bum, a loafer, a good for nothing - available for babysitting. "Torah learning is holy work, far more important than any work being done as a State employee..."
source: Bechadrei
calling an avreich a batlan - good or bad?
Eichler is not the first to call avrechei kollel and yeshiva students batlanim - loafers. The mishna and Gemara did so close to two thousand years ago. And while Eichler is using it more in the context of current vernacular, as a negative, as people see kollel guys as loafers, the Mishna calls people who are available for learning torah and making minyanim and are thus supported by the community, "batlanim" and considers it a positive name, The mishna in Megilla says a town that has ten "batlanim" is considered a big city rather than a village (for determining the day the megilla can be read on). The gemara says that a city with the batlanim is considered large enough for a sanhedrin of 23 judges. Another gemara says a talmid chochom should not live in a city without ten batlanim.
The meaning of the usage of the name is all a matter of context.
Giving these women the extra 8 days due to the change in status will be very helpful to both the mother and the father...
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