Are we getting our money's worth?

The investment in Torah study made in Israel over the past several decades is unprecedented in Jewish history. Never before have so many Jews been engaged in full-time Torah study, at the expense of the Israeli public, private donors and their own economic well-being. The ideal of as many people as possible consecrating their lives to nothing but Torah study has taken root in large segments of Orthodox society, with young men aspiring to that goal and young women encouraged to find spouses who will devote themselves to a life of learning. But are we getting our money's worth? What achievements can we, as a society, show for our investment? According to studies by Bar-Ilan University's Menahem Friedman and Haym Soloveitchik of Yeshiva University in New York, the answer is not that favorable. Thanks to cheap popular reprints made possible by new technologies, today's average yeshiva student has a library that would be the envy of all but a few of the greatest scholars of previous generations. The sources are at hand, the time is being invested, but the creative output is minimal. Most recent publications are either anthologies of old works or collections of responsa to trivial modern questions, some of which read almost like parodies of serious responsa. I often ask people more familiar than I am with the Israeli yeshiva scene to name the most creative works that have been produced in the past few decades, and rarely get firm, decisive answers.Why is this the case? For full story please subscribe to The Jerusalem Report click here to subscribe.