A unique and prestigious residential project in now being built in Mekor Haim Street in Jerusalem.
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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Regardless of age, parents play an important role in their children’s lives.
We peel away one layer after the next, our eyes tear up and it becomes harder and harder to see as we get closer to our innermost insecurities and fears.
Some Mountain Jews believe they are descendents of the Ten Lost Tribes and were exiled to Azerbaijan and Dagestan by Sancheriv.
Yom Tov is about spending time with your family. And while for some families the big once-in-a-lifetime experience is great, for others something low key is the way to go.
A fascinating glimpse into the rich complexity of medieval Jewish life and its contemporary relevance had intriguingly emerged.
Dear Dr. Yael:
My heart is breaking; my husband’s friend has gotten divorced. While this type of situation is always sad, here I do believe it could have been avoided.
The plan’s goal is to provide supportive housing to 200 individuals with disabilities by the year 2020.
Despite being one of the fastest-growing Jewish communities in the U.S. – the estimated Jewish population is 70-80,000 – Las Vegas has long been overlooked by much of the Torah world.
She was followed by the shadows of the Six Million, by the ever so subtle awareness of their vanished presence.
Pesach is so liberating (if you excuse the expression). It’s the only time I can eat anywhere in the house, guilt free! Matzah in bed!
Now all the pain, fear and struggle were over and they were home. Yuli was safe and free, a hero returned to his land and people.
While it would seem from his question that he is being chuzpadik and dismissive, I wonder if its possible, if just maybe, he is a struggling, confused neshama who actually wants to come back to the fold.
A young lady in her early 20’s, “Sarah” was redt to “Shlomie” a boy from her home town who learned in an out-of-town yeshiva. The families know each other well, which in today’s shidduch scene is a big plus – since it was therefore unlikely the kids would “fall in” due to misinformation and misinterpretations.
They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions, and that is precisely what almost always happens in situations where a reference knew someone had serious but hidden emotional issues, but did not reveal the information to the person making inquiries.
Time never stood still for anyone – why would I be the exception? In my hubris, I thought that somehow I would live forever – and I suspect we all have secretly felt that way, even though we know it’s a fantasy.
One can argue that forgetting something on a regular basis is a sign of advancing age and it’s time to for a neurological evaluation, but based on the number of young people who need to replace a lost smart phone (too bad it’s not smart enough to warn its owner that that they have become separated – or is there an app for that too?), I safely can say that losing “stuff” cuts across the generations.
For quite a few days in late December, Toronto was transformed into a breathtaking – literally and figuratively – frigid winter wonderland, where every twig, leaf, car door, and outdoor wire and cable was totally encased in ice. When the sun shone the landscape was blindingly brilliant as if billions of diamonds had been glued to everything the eye could see.
Outside is a winter-white wonderland replete with dazzling trees, wires, and sidewalks seemingly wrapped in glittery silver foil. It’s quite lovely to look at, which is about all I can do since I’m stuck indoors. Icicle-laden tree branches are bent and hunch-backed by the frozen heaviness of their popsicle-like burden, and the voices squawking from the battery-operated transistor radio I am listening to are warning people not to go out since walkways and roads are extremely slippery, and there is real danger from falling trees.
The necessity of speaking up when you “have a hunch” applies even more when it comes to shidduchim. One little girl did just that – she said something – and I was fortunate enough to be in town for the very joyful, lively wedding that resulted from her speaking up.
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/magazine/no-laughing-matter/2003/12/03/
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