JERUSALEM (VINnews) — In a dramatic move at the end of the summer “zman”(yeshiva term), the venerable Kol Torah yeshiva in Jerusalem has expelled tens of bochurim, including some of its star students. The sudden decision is based on an old directive issued by Rabbi Elazar Menachem Shach in 1994, prohibiting all yeshiva students from obtaining a driver’s license. The directive came in the wake of a number of serious road accidents involving yeshiva students.
During that period, the Vaad Hayeshivos went as far as saying that yeshiva students who had licenses would not receive military deferments. Most of the yeshivas accepted the directive and forbade students from obtaining a license. In most yeshivos the directive has remained in place but usually is not enforced. For example, there is no enforcement in Ponovezh on this issue and in many yeshivos students are allowed to obtain a license while in their fifth year in yeshiva (age 21-22).
In the Kol Torah yeshiva there was no official policy against driving licenses until recent years, when it was decided to change and prohibit obtaining a license. A student from the yeshiva related to Kikar Hashabat that “until a few years ago, nobody checked who had a license, but now they have decided to be more stringent and boys from younger shiurim about whom the yeshiva was informed that they have a license were expelled from the yeshiva. Older students were also expelled if the yeshiva had a reason to remove them and they also had a driver’s license.”
However the current action is far more extreme, according to the student: “They threw out ten exceptional students, all from fifth year and above, over the age of 21. They are not from the weaker students, they are the best students in sixth year and one of them is even a chavrusa of one of the rosh yeshivos, another is connected to the adminstration, this is truly a drama.”
The student added that in the past some students had been expelled for this reason “and then committed to all kinds of things and came back after a few days” but in this case an entire group has been thrown out. He explained that “the rosh yeshiva said that he can’t do anything about it because he needs to create a deterrent for the younger boys so that they won’t obtain a license, so he expelled the older boys even though they are among the best students in the yeshiva.”
The bachurim who were expelled said that they did not intend to go elsewhere, since at their age -sixth year- it would be difficult for them to acclimatize in another place and they are already involved in shidduchim. They said that they would be without a place to learn in the Elul zman.