Meir Panim’s Tiberias Free Restaurant not only provides warm meals, but the opportunity to socialize as well.
During Yom Tov, a group of my friends – all middle-aged ( but youthful of course) babyboomers were chatting about the usual things women smooze about when one of them shared with us the call she had recently gotten from her son-in-law’s mother. Her machtainiste asked her - a self-employed professional working part-time – if she was going to be working full time, ‘now that the kids were expecting.’ The young husband was learning and my friend’s daughter was a graduate student with years to go and their first child on the way. My friend, who is in her early 50′s told her ‘no, that she wasn’t planning on changing her work schedule . The kids would work it out themselves. The silence on the other end of the phone was deafening.
My friend had suggested something to her machtenesta that hadn’t even occurred to her – the
young couple would take responsibility for the choices they had made. The young man is a college graduate who made the choice of learning for several years – with the full encouragement of his young wife. Both sets of parents had paid for their respective kids’
undergraduate educations and had been generous in helping them set up a household. As for my friend – who had worked hard since her late teen years - she felt had earned her free time.
Everyone present shook their heads in disbelief – some in wonder that this question was asked in the first place by the mother-in-law and some by my friend’s stance on saying ‘dayeinu’. Many in that room were also facing the dilemma of needing to help their married kids, some of whom had their hearts set on devoting their lives to Torah study or helping their husbands to do so.
One woman quipped that soon it would not be enough for the baby-boom parents to help support their kids, but the bubbies and zaydes would have to come out of retirement, sell their condos in Florida and go back to work as well, while their grandsons were hunched over their Gemaras. The image of a 75+ bubby selling knitted scarves in Times Square had everyone bent over in hysterics.
But it’s no laughing matter. Parent do their best to help their children pursue their studies, paying nose-bleed tuitions for day schools/elementary yeshivot, boys and girls high school level yeshivot, and post secondary yeshivot and seminaries in Israel. But by supporting their married chuildren who are creating families of their own on an inadequate income, these parents may be short-changing their younger children who are still in school, and themselves as well.
At this stage of their lives, parents should not have to work additional hours at a a job, or to get a second one altogether, in order to provide for the children who insisted they wanted a less materialistic life, more spiritual life, and are now overwhelmed by the reality of rent bills, tuition, car payments etc. Hard working parents should be saving for their old age and generating financial security in case of serious illnesses or disability. Rather, they should be
semi-retiring and having time to themselves for their own learning or helping their aging parents and not straining themselves to help the younger generation. The fallout is often “stressed out, guilt-ridden parents” and perhaps “resentful younger siblings” who feel they are being cheated both financially and in terms of their parents’ attention.
While rebbeim and other menhanchim feel that they are doing the right thing, influencing their
students to choose a Kollel type life, they are doing a disservice to middle-class level familes and to themselves, as their stuggling alumnae who forgo a secular/professional level college education will not be able to give the high level donations the schools need in order to remain viable. Those who did not heed their call to learn – the doctors and lawyers and business executives are the ones they will be honoring at their fund-raising dinners - not the yungerleit.
And the middle-class girls looking to marry learning boys only - may find themselves left behind as these boys look for wealthy fathers-in-law to sustain a decent lifestyle for their families.
Sitting and learning is a holy undertaking. Just as the Kohanim, Leviim and Yisrael have their unique contributions in Torah life, so does each young man and woman. Some are cut out for the role of life-long learning and should be encouraged and supported in every way. Others should follow another derech and gain merit by becoming an ‘enabler’ of Torah learning by giving donations.
The rebbeim should assess each individual on his suitability as a full-time learner, based on his ‘Torah kop’ and personality, and direct him appropriately towards his life’s work. The same should be done for the girls who may truly want to be Kollel wives, but are not cut out for it after being accustomed to a cerain standard of living.
This would relieve the burden on their families and would cut down on the number of ‘learning’
couples who don’t belong in that world. Discouraging well-intentioned, but unsuitable kollel candidates is crucial, similarly to how professional disciplines, such as medical or law only accept those they think can ‘hack it’.
The genuine kollel types should have community support if their families are not in a position to help them adequatel. And the rest can earn a living , something the greatest gadolim and Talmudists throughout the ages did.
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This is the story of a Holocaust survivor who began her odyssey in Dej, Romania. Chanele Anne Grun Kempler was a teenager when she came to Auschwitz, almost 20 when she immigrated to Montreal and became a famous artist, and 64 when she passed away, alone in her bed, in 1994, on her chest a letter from Yad Vashem informing her that the painting she offered to the organization would be admitted and displayed.
It’s not that I think contractors, painters and tile guys are exclusively greedy, deceitful incompetent people – I think they are just poor businessmen or women!
I look into the flickering flames of the Shabbos candles and I am thankful for the warmth and light that emanates from them and illuminates our home.
Widow of world-famous nuclear scientist and human rights activist, Dr. Andre Sakharov, and an outstanding activist in her own right, Yelena Bonner was invited to speak of the suffering she endured in Stalinist Russia. Instead, the 86-year-old leader of the Russian human rights movement chose to speak about Israel and the Jews. Why?
I wonder why bullying exists in our community and in society at large? I was very surprised at a 30-year-old client’s explanation.
The rebbe had told Meir and Yehudah to take turns, but that wasn’t working out so well.
The sage Hillel summarized the entire Torah by saying, “That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow. That is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation; go and learn it.”
Sometimes it is hard to help people, and sometimes you can help people by just using whatever it is you have at the time – even an amazing fishing rod.
Musial told the taunted Jackie Robinson: “I want you to know that I’m not like many of the other guys on my team.”
Brooklyn resident David Siller, currently studying in Israel at Yeshivat Yesodei HaTorah in Beit Shemesh, was awarded a trophy for finishing 3rd in his age group (14-18) in a 5-kilometer race for the benefit of the Benjamin Children’s Library of Beit Shemesh.
Let me begin by congratulating my dear machatunim, Soraya and Jay Nimaroff, on being the recipients of the Community Service Award at the Sderot Hesder Institutions 18th annual anniversary dinner.
How confusing it was growing up with conflicting messages. On the one hand, we were told, even admonished, to eat everything on our generously piled up plates (it was a sin to waste food), yet we were made to feel like we were a lower form of human being if we were overweight.
While in New York recently, I was invited to see a performance of “Waiting for Godot” – a multi-layered play on the human condition that I was introduced to in high school. What was fascinating and unique about this particular production was that this renowned play was being performed in Yiddish – with English and Russian subtitles beamed onto a screen for non-Yiddish speakers. (Staged by the New Yiddish Rep, at the Castillo Theatre, and directed by Moshe Yassur, it stars Shane Baker, David Mandelbaum, Rafael Goldwaser, Avi Hoffman and Nicholas Jenkins.)
Now and then my Bubby would open up about what she went through in the camps, of what she witnessed… From time to time she would talk about her baby sisters – twins – and how she would sew them identical dresses and braid their hair the same way challenging everyone to guess who was who.
Our community has a very different mindset – we live to have children. Each child is considered a bracha – a priceless commodity to cherish and nurture.
I read an article recently that described the fascinating phenomenon of mainstream, well-educated, responsible men and women deciding not to have children. According to the article, these people have given the matter a great deal of thought and have come to the conclusion that parenting is not for them.
Now and then you read or hear of a tragedy – typically a car accident – where those involved are suffering from life-threatening injuries or unfortunately have lost their lives. Frequently, in the initial reports, the victims remain nameless “pending notification of next of kin.”
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/magazine/no-laughing-matter/2003/12/03/
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