The Problem of Shul Beis Medrification

Having organized a nightly community Beis Medrash and having directed the Torah programming in my Shul for the last 18 years, it’s seems strange that I’m actually writing about the problems of Beis Medrification. However it’s a big problem and if we don’t approach it wisely we’ll weaken our communities in the noble pursuit of increasing Torah learning. Let me explain.

We’ve all benefited greatly from the strengthening of our Yeshivos over the past decades. More people are learning more Torah at a higher level than we’ve seen in centuries. We’ve all benefited with stronger teachers, Rabbis and communities. The Roshei Yeshivos have accomplished this by continuously stressing the importance of learning. For those who are in the Yeshiva, this is the message they need to hear.

Beyond the four walls of Yeshiva learning, we face a different set of challenges. We have to make a living, educate our children, care for our elderly parents, and run the communal institutions necessary for healthy communities. For these tasks, the local Rabbi is the one who answers our halachic questions, guides us, inspires us and strengthens us during the inevitable crises we will face. Besides providing the critical functions of prayer and community, Shuls provide the financial and organizational structure that enable Rabbeim to perform their functions most effectively.

When Shuls become Beis-Medrified, their members view them primarily as a place to fulfill the mitzvos of davening and learning. They’re less involved in the organizational, communal and financial aspects of the Shul. As a result, the Shul struggles to provide the Rabbi with the resources to do his job. This is the primary problem of Beis Medrification, it moves our Shuls away from being from effective full functioning, Rabbi supporting structures.

Originally Posted 8/30/2012