Latest update: April 1st, 2012
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My mother-in-law’s wise words ring in my ears as I read the letter from the woman who is disappointed (horrified) regarding the lessons the yeshivas and rabbeim are espousing in today’s day and age with regard to condoning the “sitting” and learning ad infinitum situation. (Chronicles 4-14, “No son of mine)
You see, about 24 years ago, my husband pleaded with his parents to allow him to sit and learn when he got married, which would have had them continue busting their chops to support him and his new wife. My mother-in-law proclaimed in her broken English/heavy Hungarian accent, “If you enjoy learning so much, you can do that from 5:00 p.m. when you return from work until 9:00 a.m. the next morning when you leave for work!!!”
Now, truthfully, I must admit my husband is one who should be sitting and learning day and night. He is brilliant in every aspect of Torah learning and can’t get enough of it he is never satiated from learning Torah. Only when his eyes close on him or he finds himself reading the same line over and over does he finally succumb to sleep!
And, yes, he learns EVERY free moment he has – in his office, in his car, on the recliner, at the dining-room table, in shul, with a chavrusa, with his son, etc. You see, there is always time for learning Torah. I have already proclaimed to my husband that when HaShem asks him after 120, “did you spend time learning Torah?” – he will breeze right through that one. He has incorporated learning into his work life, or, at this point, work into his learning life. However he provides for his large family in a bekavadik fashion and we, baruch HaShem, are missing nothing.
My husband’s mother and father showed him that there is nothing wrong with working to support one’s family and incorporating learning Torah into that program.
If anyone from the yeshiva world is reading this, please know full well that Torah im derech eretz is feasible AND is the only way! Not everybody has that much money in the bank!
Our son, 21 years of age, who emulates his father with regard to learning Torah with love and an appreciation for it, has completed 12 years of prominent local yeshivas, as well as three years in a heavy-duty (learning) yeshiva in Eretz Yisrael. He is now back in the United States, incorporating a learning program with a college education. We are so proud of him – yet, the mention of college evokes looks of befuddlement. We shyly explain that our son wants to support his family ON HIS OWN!
You are right – it was not the yeshivas that encouraged this schedule for our son. It was, we, his parents, who have been instilling in him since the wee years that, besides for learning, he must get an education that will enable him to fortify his life with making a living.
In the end, our son wants to make us proud and be a responsible young (married) man. He feels that waiting for a monthly handout is not a normal way of living – it couldn’t be!
An aside: When my husband came home and I showed him your letter, he exclaimed, “Kol hakavod to this woman!”
And I say “Kol hakavod to you, Rachel, for bringing these sore topics to the forefront. You’re a superstar in my eyes!”
Not my son either…
Upon reading your letter, I couldn’t help but wonder who among you is luckiest. Is it you for having the good fortune to be married to such an all around gem? Your children, maybe, who are blessed to have both of you as parents? Perhaps it is you and your husband for having reared intelligent, sensible and respectful children. Or is it your husband, who finds himself with such an exemplary aishes chayil at his side? The verdict is still out.
There is no question, however, that your husband sets a shining example for both young and old, and as the head of your family is a positive force and influence on his clan and everyone around him.
The Divrei Chaim from Sanz was heard to say that there are three times in one’s life when a human being cries and Hashem comforts him. The first time is at birth, when the child suddenly finds himself torn from the security of his mother’s womb and worries about where he will from now on attain his nourishment. Hashem assures the newborn that He will continue to care for him as He had before.
The second time the child cries is when he ceases to nurse. “Where will I now obtain my food?” he wails pitifully. And G-d calms him with the assurance that He will sustain him as he had thus far.
The third instance occurs when the chasan stands under the chupa and cries – for up until this time he had eaten at his parents’ home, and from here on in he needs to manage to sustain both himself and his wife. And Hashem consoles and assures him, “I nurtured you all this while … and will continue to do so – by providing you with a parnassa”
R. Chaim Chizkiyahu Medini, the S’dei Chemed, married off three daughters to talmidei chachamim, all his former talmidim – and all working boys. One was a tailor, the other made his living as a hatter and the third toiled as a cobbler. The S’dei Chemed explained, “I am immersed in Torah by day and by night, and yet Chazal teach that kol Torah sh’eyn eemah melacha sofah betailah (learning Torah without work culminates in nothingness). So I took my sons-in-law and formed a partnership: I learn and they earn – and this way I am assured that my Torah will chas v’shalom not become null and void.
Need more be said?
About the Author: We encourage women and men of all ages to send in their personal stories via email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail to Rachel/Chronicles, c/o The Jewish Press, 4915 16th Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y. 11204. If you wish to make a contribution and help agunot, your tax-deductible donation should be sent to The Jewish Press Foundation. Please make sure to specify that it is to help agunot, as the foundation supports many worthwhile causes.
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