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What Were We Thinking?

Illustrative Photo: Yeshiva Bochrim (Students)

Illustrative Photo: Yeshiva Bochrim (Students)
Photo Credit: Yaakov Naumi/Flash90

A quick perusal through newspapers, magazines and recent books reveals a plethora of titles such as “The Pre-Adult Male: Listless and Confused,” “Where Have the Good Men Gone?” and “Why There Are No Good Men Left.”

These all bemoan the difficulty the modern woman has in finding an educated and employed mate. Some posit that women have left men behind as they pursue higher education at greater rates than men and are outperforming and out-earning them in their careers, which has resulted in a difficult dating scene for successful women seeking educated men with a job. Per a recent study showing that 75 percent of women wouldn’t date an unemployed man, this would seem to be a widespread problem.

As you would expect of a nation with the mission of being an ohr lagoyim, we have avoided this problem entirely. In fact, we have pulled a hoax of such proportion that one almost expects to see the Elders of Zion crouching in the shadows and pulling the strings to effect it.

We have educated our young women, our future wives and mothers, to believe that not only is a young man with a job or a degree not to be sought after, but he is in fact someone to be avoided at all cost. Our daughters now seek precisely those men who are incapable of supporting them and their children.

While such an arrangement may bear fruit for the Rebbe Akivas and Rachels among us, have we attained such heights of hubris as to believe that our chinuch produces no other product? Our girls have been trained, en masse with no regard for whether or not they are suited for such a lifestyle, to ignore, repress and reject every urge they have for self-preservation. How our educators have managed to overcome thousands of years of maternal instinct and biological imperative boggles the mind and should inspire vast amounts of research by anyone with totalitarian ambitions.

We have arrived at a point where single men defer leaving yeshiva to attend college or begin working because they fear the negative impact this will have on their shidduch prospects! This is worlds away from the model demonstrated for us by Yaakov Avinu. The Seforno explains (Bereishis 29:18) that Yaakov offered to work for Rachel for seven years because he had arrived at Lavan’s home penniless and without a means of supporting a wife and children, and “there is no doubt that a tzaddik wouldn’t marry a wife and raise children without the means of supporting them.”

We are doing these young women and men a grave injustice. Entrusted with their education we have extolled a lifestyle that is antithetical to Torah and condemns many of them to a life of financial difficulty. Many studies reveal that a primary cause of marital conflict is financial stress. Today, with marriage under attack on multiple fronts, do we truly feel comfortable adding the virtual certainty of monetary difficulties to the many challenges already facing married couples?

Sowing the seeds of marital destitution and dissent, we saddle our women with the curse of Adam in addition to the curse of Chava. Who is held accountable when these young women are exposed to the harsh light of reality as they struggle to act as mother, wife and breadwinner with a husband who, even if he desired to assist in supporting his family, has none of the prerequisite experience or education?

Isn’t it time to admit we have extended proper motivations to the point of absurdity?

The Ohr HaChaim (Shemos 18:21) questions why it was necessary for Yisro to be the one who advised Moshe Rabbeinu to establish a system of courts. After all, this suggests a lack of wisdom among Bnei Yisrael as no member of the tribe had arrived at such a solution. Not only that, but the Torah portion in which we are given the Aseres Hadibros is named after this newcomer! He answers that this advice had to come through Yisro to teach future generations that Jews have no monopoly on intelligence and that we should seek wisdom from all sources.

There are many faults and flaws in modern, secular culture, and it is as astounding that we would need to turn to outside wisdom for this truth as it was in the case of Yisro, but can you imagine the reaction of single women in secular society who despair of ever finding a working man if they knew we were actively encouraging our daughters to seek men who have no means of supporting them?

We have become so accustomed to the situation that, like the proverbial frog in the boiling water, we fail to recognize how unnatural and dangerous it is. Throughout the ages, society – Jewish and non-Jewish – has recognized the obvious insanity of such a course. Why don’t we?

About the Author: Ari Lapin is a medical student and entrepreneur who writes on Torah issues, politics, culture, and his experiences in the never dull world of shidduchim. He can be reached via www.arilapin.com.


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108 Responses to “What Were We Thinking?”

  1. I blame certain "sems" (seminaries), and the emotionally castrated "rabbis," who allow these girls to be influenced by their gaivadik "Rebbetzins." This is nothing less than feminism which has snuck into Judaism in disguise! http://esseragaroth.blogspot.com/2012/12/jewish-feminism.html

  2. I wish that there were more orthodox Rabonim that felt and wrote that way.

  3. Daniela Esthetician says:

    I was thinking about this the other day. A lot of this has to do with the same fear that is messing up a lot of people the world over, good people, bad people, religious people, anti-religious people, everybody. There is a fear taking the world over of either losing power, failing to regain power once lost, or losing freedom of some kind, expression, choice, or independence. In the case of Jews going nuts no matter the belief system or background, so many seem terrified of themselves or others being fooled or had by somebody else's influence. I see Frum and non-frum terrified of each other and their respective surroundings. I see Frum especially terrified of anything secular. It seems to me the biggest driving factor toward this must learn must not work ideal is the fear of what might happen to a young man exposed to any secular environment that is necessary to be educated or to work with others in a job. So as not to reveal this fear, they romanticize about the holy life of a kollel guy. I normally hate the criticism of "you should be more secure in your beliefs rather than be so strict about not being in contact with other people" because usually the person leveling that criticism is being condescending, but I can't help but think it in this case. :(

  4. I don't understand why the author chose the photo of the hasid on the front, but if I am right as to why, it is total loshon hara, public humiliation, slander, and should be taken down.

  5. Daniel Lapin says:

    Regardless of the newspaper, the author never chooses the accompanying picture or even the headline/title. That is the job of the journal's editor

  6. Daniel Lapin I edited my comment, thanks for the feedback.

  7. Alen Reyhan says:

    Great article! Our community should definitely get a copy of this.

  8. Susan Kanina says:

    Authors usually do not choose the accompanying pictures (often they don't even get to pick the title of a piece). Dan l'chaf z'chus.

  9. Allen Stern says:

    May we can start with the Jewish Press not printing stories about Kugel.

  10. Ruti Liza Dardashti-Wolf says:

    I was just discussing this issue with someone today! Our generation is on a downward spiral unless something changes. Who will support the next generation?

  11. Tzadik Vanderhoof says:

    They also don't even get to choose the final wording of their text or how much of it is cut out

  12. Tally R. Eb says:

    you just figured it out now? committ the next generation to a life of poverty…

  13. Tina Kauffman says:

    Not what I read recently on a FB page. On this page, a plethora of women only wanted to dated professional men, with a substantial bank accounts.

  14. One must realize,given today's values in the "frum" community, the רמב״ם would remain single.

  15. Douglas Kent says:

    I live in a neighborhood where most young men go to work full time.THAT DOES NOT MEAN THEY ARE MAKING A LIVING!!! The dirty little secret (and it is not such a secret) is that mommy and daddy are being used as an ATM. Pick on the yungerleit all you want. With few exceptions…mommy and daddy pay most of the rent,tuition,mortgages,food,SUVs. If you feel superior because you don't learn you are only fooling yourselves.A pack of "fronters".

  16. How true, Yossi. I've been berated by shadchanim if the prospective young man had any way to support the future family and so have my friends

  17. Sharon Orbach says:

    Amazing

  18. Nadav Reis says:

    The article is good except for the fact that is a gross over generalization. It is the same generalization that leads the secular media to preach that no charedim work, to which many readers happily buy into. There are two sides to every story, and this article highlights one extreme side as if it were the truth.

  19. RABBI DR, BERNHARD ROSENBERG

    KINGS AND QUEENS, PAWNS AND KNIGHTS: THE ‘GLATT GAME’

    “THE SHIDDUCH CRISES”

    The Jewish populace seems too busy confronting themselves to realize that there is a shidduch, the tragedy before them. All of us are engaged in the “I am Frumer (more religious) Than Thou Game.”

    Yes, the chess game of the Jewish people does exist and it consists of numerous players including Kings, Queens, Pawns and Knights. Let us analyze these players. The Kings and Queens are found everywhere. They are better known as the “Better Than Thou” contingency representing, with nose held high, the so-called “ultra ultra”, whose main function in life is to supervise and interpret the motives of others.

    The J.A.P., a term which applies equally to both sexes, reigns supreme. A true J.A.P. is one whose true emotions and feelings of dedication and idealism are hidden under the heavy burden of appeasing self-righteous motives. Is it any wonder that some young Jewish singles seek elsewhere?

    AND YES, let us not forget the elite, the “Yechis (status) Seekers”. “Remember my son, you belong to a righteous family; avoid the Baal Tshuvah (a non-observant Jew who became religious), after all they may change their ways. Remember who you are and where you came from.”

    And if these were not sufficient, the Kings and Queens engage themselves in the “I AM GLATTER THAN THOU PAGENTRY.’ This requires the ability to openly criticize others regarding their mode of dress, their eating patterns, recognized certified Kosher products are not acceptable, the fictitious Glatt pickle is preferred, and, of course, an open attach against religious leaders, their ammunition being the infamous non-existent 14th century Chumrah (strict legal view) entitles one to acquire membership in this select group. The only problem is that no one wants to be a follower and thus the leaders continue quoting profound statements found in the tractate “Buba Meisah (fairy tales).”

    Now, the heroic Knight enters the arena. This individual, male or female, traditionally minded and filled with the love of Torah, wages an heroic campaign. The Knights are represented by clergy and lay leadership who open their hearts to Jewish young people communicating the love and harmony of the Torah. Numerous Rabbis are fighting on the front lines to create a vibrant Jewish community. Young people are engaged in Shabbatonim, retreats and seminars in an active attempt to spread Yiddishkeit; yet, too often, Jewish organizations seem more interested in the establishment of plush swimming pools than in financing such religious projects a community mikvah (ritual bath).

    THESE KNIGHTS, however are confronted by numerous foes. Rabbis are challenged by the Glatt contingent whose battle cry seems to be “The Mechitzah (separation between men and women in the synagogue sanctuary) is not high enough.” Some musmochim (rabbinical school graduates) forget that they are not the leaders of the congregation and consider Shabbat and Yom Tov a day to play “Challenge the Spiritual Leader.” Others are more compassionate; instead of aiding the Rabbi, they just lean back awaiting the opportunity to privately render their illustrious Psak Din (Legal decree). This is the prelude to the “Let’s create another Shtibbel (synagogue) game”, starring these above mentioned unassuming geniuses of Jewish Law.

    Forgetting the great “Tuna Fish and Bubble Gum Controversy” of yesteryear, let us turn to other significant and crucial issues. The agunah, divorce and conversion procedures, together with the existing problems of Mamzeres require our immediate attention. Yet, they too cannot escape the “I am glatter than thou game.” We are informed that a sanhedrin (universal Rabbinical Court) is needed in order to solve many of our numerous halachic difficulties. The only problem, of course, is that we cannot agree on membership to the Sanhedrin.

    Why is there a Shidduch crises? Perhaps it is because in the chess game of life, it is the PAWN who suffers the most.

    THE TORAH holds the answers to all our questions; however, human beings, with G-d’s help, are needed to overcome so called obstacles.

    If only we, the pursuers of Torah knowledge, would realize that the battle is immense and the time is short. Instead of playing the Glatt Game called “Frumer than Thou,” let us communicate love and knowledge , let us act in the image of G-d; only then will we be worthy to be called Frum Yidden who walk in the “Glatt path”. In the words of Rav Kook, “Just at the Second Temple was destroyed by acts of brotherly hatred, the third Temple will be built by acts of brotherly Love.”

    >

    Subject: : "Dating in the Yeshiva World" OR ANY OTHER WORLD BY DR. ROSENBERG

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  20. Aviva Henoch says:

    I'm unfortunately very familiar with this problem!

  21. Chaya Chertok says:

    frum world: interesting food for thought!

  22. Izzy Moskovits says:

    Could not agree more!

  23. Pearl Feder says:

    Working in the Educational system providing "equitable" services to yeshiva students, I constantly come across boys from the Chassidish yeshivas who cannot read or write in 8th grade. Many of these yeshivas do not start English until they are I third grade Yiddish/Hebrew and stop learning English when they go into 9th grade. Shame on the schools for discouraging English Education, shame on the parents for going along with it.

  24. Torah learning as the highest ideal is a beautiful concept. There are practical realities, however, that are being ignored. The paradigms keep shifting and they will continue to do so. We're in the middle of of one where there won't be too many wealthy in-laws who can float the young couple. We have to stay open to various options. Poverty is really tough on Shalom Bayis.

  25. You are my hero, Ari Lapin. Perfectly written.

  26. Chaim Klein says:

    The "Shidduch Crissis" It used to be, that a girl wanted a "Learn & Earn" Boy. Now, its all "Resume's" Do you stack, Do you use a second Table cloth for Dessert on Shabbos, Etc, Etc. "It has gotten out of hand already. There are pleanty of good girls, and guys out there, that are "NOT" making "Six" figures, or come from a back ground of "Yichus" all the way to Moshe Rabeinu. Lets stop and focus on "Midos" that is the "Key" word here. The "Divorce rate is so high today, because the "Parents" are the ones that push their kids to get married right away. Checking out ones back ground, is important, but up to what extent. Enough labeling! Guys and girls can go out and be the best shidduch for one another. Its the parents that are at fault, because they want to look good, and take all the credit. if you brought up your kids with the right tools, and gave them the right Education, and Hashkafas, then you shouldn't have a problem. I wish that all Familes have Nachas from their children, and realize that time is of an essence, and 'Stacking Etc" is really "Not" so important.

  27. Tova Lieberman says:

    Where's the Asifa for this??

  28. When I moved to Passaic NJ 25 years ago, the joke was that I was the lowest life form. I was a single guy that worked. I was not on "parental welfare." And, B"H, I had a good job. I see the families here, I know who get supported and who does not. But, for the kids in their teens and twenties, they're told that you should Collect all of the government subsidies you can. This is what they're there for. And, if the other "minorities" can collect them, why can't we.

    So, we've turned into white trash that wear black suites and white shirts.

  29. Douglas Kent says:

    That is the point but you don't see it. The people on parental welfare are still the same people WHO GO TO WORK.Not only can't they support their families they have to ask their parents for help.And when everything is said and done what do they have.Torah?No.Money?No. Between tuition and property taxes (especially in Passaic) and even with six figure salaries they still use their parents as an ATM.Sounds like people either don't value the highest value or are jealous.When you were single was one thing.Having a family is another.

  30. Willy Judovitch says:

    good article

  31. Don't limit this revolting behavior to the Jews only. There is much 'scumary' to go around. I see it every day.

  32. Yael Sadykov-Ibragimov says:

    I have a brother who is a "learning boy"… its hard. Im hardly able to work and raise my kid and husband….I didnt sign up for both curses and i dont intend on keeping my husbands share. I am def ganna work less….. and pop more babies ( a few more) let the men deal with parnasha

  33. Yaeli Nava says:

    amen to that sister. I agree with this article and you very much. It is a shame that we have led boys to believe that working is a shameful thing to do and that girls are marrying less of a person if doesnt learn all day. This is where our society breaks. Values have been twisted and the worst part is that they go against the torah even though people will say that the opposite is true. It's in black and white. Yaakov WORKED for Rachel, not the other way around!

  34. Yehuda Beyda says:

    Good job! Goebbels would be very proud. You make unfounded and unsupported declarations, and compare our chinuch system to totalitarian regimes. Have you ever come to Lakewood, where you will find hundreds of charedi yeshiva-educated men working to support their families in an honorable way? Have you spoken to the wives who, knowing the sacrifice entailed and feeling the pinch, still want nothing more than for their husbands to stick it out in kollel just a few more months? I see them. I live among these beautiful souls. Rabbi Akiva has set an example for us all to attempt to emulate, if for no more than a couple of years. Shame on you!

  35. Miriam Grossman says:

    YES!

  36. Robert Furst says:

    It is now an honor to live on Section Eight and Food Stamps, it is no wonder that many in the Frum community voted for the Democrats including Obama. Only one question, when the yeshivas have no one to support them, where will they get their funding? It is no wonder that here in Florida hundreds of families are sending children to public school. It is our responsibility as parents to educate our children, and it seems many parents have failed.

  37. Robert Furst says:

    That's ok you will be a saint when they come looking for money.

  38. Jason Bokow says:

    the wives of those in kollel were indoctrinated from birth that that is whats expected of them…same with the men. how about we call this what it is. these children are brought up in a closed society and as i stated above are indoctrinated into believing that is what is supposed to happen. if u dont let children play with children from other beliefs/religions they will never have a opinion about the world except the ones they are given. a friend of mine grew up in a community like lakewood. super religious and all. went to israel for they almost obligatory year after high school. saw how the world is and went off the deep end…others go the opposite way and shut themselves in a kollel. and honestly yes, charity is a mitzvah…but knowing u need to give it because those in there place dont want to work. (would u support me if i told u i want to play videos games all day, never leave and i wont chip in to the place???? absolutely not…i guarantee it

  39. Jason Bokow says:

    nope …call it what u want but its the truth. as bad as it may be..

  40. Devo Schiffer says:

    Although I agree with your thoughts, yael sadykov-ibragimov, I must say I find it appalling that you plan to "pop more babies", what a crass and disgusting way to refer to your childbearing abilities. Please grow up a little before you decide to mother other humans. And I do hope that your reference to raising your "kid and husband" was a typo…unless your spouse is underage as well….??

  41. My question is about the frum families and educational system outside of Israel and East Coast? Of course the system isn't perfect, but there countless of Shomer Mivot "Charadi" or "Yeshvish" Husbands who attended Yeshivah and now work in the professional realm and are respectable.
    Or the Balai t'sehuva women who chose to be Kollel wives.
    There are so many more complexities in Orthodoxy and Judaism.

  42. Camp Achdus says:

    Terrible, look at Rashi and malbim on parshas Human.

  43. Lionel Rose says:

    This article should be posted in every yeshiva and compulsory reading for every student

  44. Ahron Ebert says:

    Rabbi Akiva married a rich woman and did not have any children. Since he was away so many years when did he have time to be with his wife?

  45. Baruch Shine says:

    Jason Bokow
    One may argue points regarding what you refer to as indoctrinated expectations. Your canard, however, against Kollel members as those who “don’t want to work” and equating them with video gamers is shameful. Your vitriol makes manifest your jaundiced bias.

    I have spent over a decade in each world, in Kollel and in the professional business world. The 8-10 plus hour days I now work in a high pressure, high expectation atmosphere as a consultant to CEO-level clients, is still not as rigorous as the time I spent toiling full time in Torah in Kollel. My wife and I entered Kollel life willingly with eyes wide open, knowing in advance the sacrifices we would make, and we felt privileged to do so. My wife was not “indoctrinated” into this. She was brought up in a mixed gender day school out of town. She is simply a true Torah idealist. We never took any government programs, and never “demanded” support from our parents. We have friends of similar circumstance.

    In Egypt, 1/12 of the entire Jewish Nation, the tribe of Levi, did not “work” with the rest of their enslaved Jewish brethren during their entire sojourn there. They, the priestly class, “sat and learned”. Hashem saw fit to command the Jews to give them the priestly tithes of Teruma and Maaser, Torah ordained “charity”, if you will, to do so. Yet it was these offspring of Levi, Moshe and Aharon (and Miriam, et al), in whose merit and directly through whom, the Jews were emancipated from Egypt.

    Hashem has sustained Klal Yisroel throughout the millennia even against all who have risen to destroy us, only in the merit of our accepting it, and learning it to pass down to out progeny. It is Torah learning that has supported Klal Yisroel as a whole.

    Yes. As you say, charity is a mitzvah. Therefore we who learn Torah will continue to help support you, even if you want to play videos games all day, never leave, and don’t chip in your part of the Torah learning obligation to the place…

  46. Uriel Zbili says:

    Another piece of evidence that these religious rules, values, way of life may not be as divine as some of us were brought up to believe, but rather the agenda of a group of people who seek to control the way of life of others. Good article. A man who doesn't support his wife and kids is a loser period.

  47. Salomon Sredni says:

    Interesting.

  48. Sharon Akins Eiseman – you are right, of course. But, and it is a big 'but', the other members of the scummery do not go around declaring how holy and moral they are…………

  49. I went to college, and so did my wife, and neither of us can find full-time jobs. Meanwhile, I see yungerleit in Williamsburg who speak broken English make it big. Education has nothing to do with parnassah – it is all in Hashem's Hands. That is the big lesson of the Manna in this week's parshah.

  50. the Rambam learned for most of his life – he only got a job after his brother, who supported him in learning, got lost at sea. We always talk about Rebbi Akiva starting to learn alef beis when he was 40, but the same was true of the Rambam when it came to learning secular studies.

  51. Michael Rosenberg says:

    mazel has something to do with it as well

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