web analytics
January 30, 2015 / 10 Shevat, 5775
 
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post


Jumping In With Open Eyes


Kupfer-Cheryl

Thousands of young frum men and women in their late teens and early 20s will soon be returning from a year (or two or three) in Israeli yeshivas and seminaries, full of youthful exuberance and idealism. Many who had planned on going to college have changed their minds (often to the dismay of their parents) insisting that secular studies or employment are not for them. They want to be full time learners or the wife of one.

The girls in particular see themselves as neshei chayil – they will work and be the main breadwinner of the family and “hold the (domestic) fort” so their husband can immerse himself in Torah. After all, that is the goal they have been encouraged towards by their morot; there is no greater calling than doing what it takes to enable their future husband to lose himself in Torah, free of any mundane concerns, interruptions or worries.

While this is a very noble lifestyle to strive for – the fact is very few of these very earnest future wives truly know what this lifestyle entails; nor are most cut out for the hard work and sacrifices that come with the territory.

These sincere but naïve young ladies have what I call the Rebbetzin Akiva Syndrome, named after Rochel, the wife of Rabbi Akiva, a girl brought up in the lap of luxury. She gave it all up in order to marry Akiva (her father had disinherited her) and encouraged him to devote himself to learning, even if it meant she would have a very reduced standard of living and be alone most of the time, which in fact was the case for years. She gladly sacrificed physical comfort and even emotional support (being on her own) for the sake of Torah.

Those teachers and principals who have influenced these impressionable kids to go on thatvery dignified, but difficult, derech may genuinely feel that they are putting them on the path of true Torah happiness. But I can’t help wonder if the discussions on the spiritual beauty of these lifestyle were balanced with an honest reality check, so that these over-enthusiastic girls could take a step back and do a cheshbon hanefesh – an internal assessment – and thus be better equipped to make an informed choice.

While many girls daydream of emulating Rebbetzin Akiva and are determined they will be just like her, most, not surprisingly, are not made of the same stuff and eventually find themselves in a living nightmare: The day to day actuality of juggling several occupations that are full time by themselves. Caring for children, working, dealing with myriad household chores and crises, and facing endless, unavoidable expenses and debt can become overwhelming, demoralizing and lead to serious shalom bayis issues. What sounds so romantic and glorious on paper rarely translates that way into reality.

When I was a teenager, a kallah I bumped into, told me with pride and radiant eyes that after her chassanah – a lovely affair that her financially comfortable parents made for her – she was going to live in Eretz Yisrael and work while her husband learned. I wished her well but I had a feeling that this pampered girl with her weekly manicures, pedicures and designer outfits didn’t know what she was getting into. About four years later I bumped into her again. This time her eyes were dull with weariness and her face was haggard. She was still an eishes chayil – working full time and being for all intents and purposes a single mother (she had two pre-schoolers and was expecting) while her husband spent his days and evenings in the bais medrash.

While I had no doubt that her parents helped financially, she had several younger brothers and sisters who also wanted a learning lifestyle. At some point, her parents had to divert some of their support to their other children.

In reality, as this kallah found out, it is very challenging to be a superwoman – to run from home to job and back; to deal with the needs and demands of several young children; to run a household – and not burn out or be awash with resentment and even anger at what can seem as a one sided effort.

Years ago someone told me of a lecture she went to at which a rav admonished the women to allow their learning husbands to go to night seder and evening shiur without insisting he help give the kids a bath and put them to bed. The anger in the room was very palpable, I was told.

These girls should be told that there is another, likewise honorable option in terms of a husband – men who are leaning towards a college education or working in a trade.

Unfortunately, many of these erlich individuals are made to feel that they “sold out” and let their rabbeim/teachers down. Because of this disparaging view of “earners” many post-seminary girls in the parsha turn their noses up when redd a shidduch with one of them.

Several years ago I wrote of a bachur, a “black hat” type of boy who had graduated from a specialized university program and at a young age had an excellent parnassah. He was very frustrated because he was constantly being turned down for shidduchim because he wasn’t “a learning boy”, even though he was machmir on learning with a chavrusah in the evenings and in his spare time. I called him “Avi.”

Avi eventually married and now has a baby. His wife has the luxury of being a stay-at-home mother and seeing her child reach each milestone. She has her own car and cleaning help if she wants it. The baby is being raised in a calm, comfortable home by parents who are not harried, worn out or distressed due to physical exhaustion and a mountain of bills. Avi gives generously to the local kollel, yeshivot and to chesed organizations, indirectly supporting the husbands of the women who rejected him, so that they can learn.

Seminaries should paint a realistic view of life as the wife of a learner – both the benefits and the challenges from all the angles – spiritual, emotional and socio-economical. The girls need to be able to assess what the “facts on the ground” are in terms of their parents’ ability to support; their own ability to be self-reliant and independent and their “comfort level” in terms of needing to have “things.”

The community also needs to adjust their negative attitude towards earners. Without Zevulin, Yissachar will falter. Young people should be able to make informed choices, without shame or guilt – or regret.

Cheryl Kupfer can be reached at magazine@jewishpress.com

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Jumping In With Open Eyes”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
ISIS murderers threatening Obama
ISIS: We Will Behead Obama, Make US Part of the Caliphate [video]
Latest Sections Stories
South-Florida-logo

The musical production was beautifully performed by the middle school students.

South-Florida-logo

Greige offered a post of her own. She said, “I was very cautious to avoid being in any photo or communication with Miss Israel.” She contends that she was photobombed.

South-Florida-logo

This year, 40 couples were helped. The organization needs the support of the extended Jewish community so that it can continue in its important work.

In the introduction to the first volume, R. Katz discusses the Torah ideal, arguing that the Torah’s laws are intended to craft the perfect man and are not to be regarded as ends unto themselves.

A highlight of the evening was the video produced by the Kleinman Family Holocaust Education Center on the legendary Agudah askan Reb Elimelech (Mike) Tress, a true Jewish hero.

Until recently his films were largely forgotten, but with their release last year on DVD by Re:Voir Video in Paris they are once again available.

Though the CCAR supported the Jewish right to emigrate to Eretz Yisrael, it strenuously objected to defining Palestine as the Jewish homeland.

“Well, you are also part of this class! If someone drills a hole in the boat, the boat will ultimately sink, and even the innocent ones will perish as well. The whole class must be punished!”

Nouril concluded he had no choice: He had to become more observant.

I find his mother to be a difficult person and my nature is to stay away from people like that.

Here are some recipes to make your Chag La’Illanot a festive one.

Does standing under the chuppah signal the end of our dream of romance and beautiful sunsets?

We aren’t at a platform; we are underground, just sitting there.

More Articles from Cheryl Kupfer
Kupfer-112114

Divorce from a vindictive, cruel spouse can be a lifelong nightmare when there are offspring.

Kupfer-092614-Books

Not knowing any better, I assumed that Molly and her mother must be voracious readers.

Unpleasant happenings are quickly discarded if they do not affect us directly.

I have always insisted that everything that happens to anyone or anything is min Shamayim.

It is so hurtful to heighten people’s sense of inadequacy and guilt in a matzav that is already horrendous and difficult to bear.

Make no mistake: in the wrong hands cars are weapons of mass destruction.

Where once divorce in heimische communities was relatively uncommon, nowadays every family has a son, daughter, sibling cousin who is divorced – sometimes twice or even three times!

Many go about the business of living frum, observant lives, but they are only going through the motions.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/magazine/on-our-own/jumping-in-with-open-eyes-2/2011/05/25/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: