A kol korei, proclamation, has been issued by the Roshei Yeshivos and Menahelim of over 50 yeshivos in the New York area forbidding their students from using limousines, “party buses,” and other such vehicles while collecting tzedakah on Purim.
“It’s not good for ruchniyus and it’s not good for gashmiyus either,” said Rabbi Reuven Jacobs, Menahel of Yeshivas Bais Dovid, Monsey. “Firstly, this is not a standard that the yeshivos are trying to set. We teach pashtus, simplicity, and to be happy with the physical possessions that we have. Secondly, the people who give money don’t like it either. They look and see their money going for a limousine. It defeats the practical purpose and becomes [an end in and of] itself.”
Echoing many others, Rabbi Jacobs said that Bais Dovid has forbidden the practice for many years, but felt that the kol korei would be helpful in strengthening the position of mosdos who struggle with the issue. He also added that while car services can be arranged quickly and easily, the process of arranging for limousines, party buses, RV’s and other such vehicles can be time-consuming.
The limousine rentals have “two negative aspects: for the bachurim themselves and for the situation it helps create,” said Rabbi Shimon Spira, Menahel of Mesivta Karlin Stolin in Boro Park. “It leads to tremendous wildness and creates a chillul Hashem. Also, these cars have bars and screens, and all the contemporary dangers.”
Many noted that “party vehicles” are set up in a manner that encourages undesirable behavior. Rabbi Spira added that problems do not necessarily end with the close of Yom Tov: “We all know that 50 percent of bachurim who smoke started on Purim.”
One Rosh Yeshivah who signed the petition but asked not to be named said that much needs to be done in general to rein in the permissive and uncontrolled situation that many young people find themselves in on Purim. He hoped that the ban would be a productive step in correcting the current unfortunate state of affairs.
“Aside from the specific problems that have occurred from bachurim riding in these cars, this is not something we want our children to look up to and aspire to,” said Harav Yosef Tzvi Bursztyn, Rosh Yeshivah of the Mesivta of Lakewood, another signer. “Just like there are certain ways of dressing and types of music that we discourage because of the spirit they encourage, limousines too are something that our culture should stay away from.”
An accompanying “Open Letter” beseeches potential donors to support those groups that adhere to the kol korei’s directive. The letter also points out that aside from the spiritual damage caused, the rental of these vehicles often “leaves very little actual profit for the cause.”