In any case, it seems to be an ideal situation for people that want to learn Torah their whole lives. And some people manage within this system fairly well. I can tell by a glance who is learning Torah seriously, and who is just playing games. And I can tell there are a considerable number of people that are very much into the idea of sitting and learning all their lives for the sake of Torah alone. You don't see this much in the USA, even if people say that that is what they are doing. But in Israel you see this in cities where there are traditional Lithuanian yeshivas.
I should mention this is an ideal I believe in, even if I don't have the merit to do it myself.
On the other hand there is a parallel community of Religious Zionist yeshivas that do believe in work and this system also I approve of. And each one I think is good and I have no preference one over the other. But it is when I see abuse of either system that bothers me.
The advantage of the Religious Zionist is that you see less abuse of the system. If people want money, they work. If they are satisfied with little, they learn. You don't get that freedom in the Lithuanian yeshivas. But in the Lithuanian yeshivas, you get a degree of learning that is of the highest quality.
Both systems and communities complement themselves. It is like a natural ecosystem with its natural balance.
I cant stress enough how essential this idea of sitting and learning ones whole life is in the Israeli system. And the source of the idea is legitimate. [See the Nefesh HaChaim from Chaim from Voloshin. He brings the main sources. But you can see this yourself in the Gemara and Rambam.] And throughout the ages this was considered the highest ideal. It is just that it was never realizable until the State of Israel was born. Before that it was kind of ad hoc. The best a person could do who wanted to be learning was to accept some rabbinical post but that often had the unfortunate effect of taking ones time away from Torah. There never was sufficient funds in any community to support anyone who wanted to get married and still spend all their time learning. So people found arrangements with rich father-in-laws. I am not saying you have to like this, or agree with this. It is just that you have to understand it in order to understand what the Litvak yeshiva world in Israel sees as the goal of life.
But in the USA you see less of this, perhaps because of the expenses involved.
Certainly I saw plenty of people in the three great NY yeshivas, Chaim Berlin, Mirrer, and Torah VeDaat that also wanted to spend their whole lives learning Torah and somehow managed it. But in no case did I ever see this without the support of the wife.
I would have to say the Religious Zionist approach is probably closer to the actual path of the Torah.
Mainly because as you have guessed that living off charity ones whole life is not the path of Torah. And in the USA, I have even seen places that claim Torah is a legitimate means of making money in order to get people to support their kollels. [That is, of course, a lie; and a malicious one at that. It is meant to scam people.] So there are enough kinks in this system to get me thinking the Religious Zionist approach is better. Torah with Work. And if one does Torah alone, then he does not lie about what it is he is doing. Torah is not a means for a living. Rather there is a kind of permission (to some opinions) to accept charity in order to learn. But that is all it is -- charity.