Last week I published a letter from a young man who felt he was treated unfairly in his quest for a shidduch. A yeshiva graduate who excelled in learning, he was also determined to become a professional and that is where his woes commenced. He complained that the Torah community was intolerant of someone who earned a livelihood and was not a full time learner.
Born into a good, observant family in which he witnessed his parents’ devotion to Torah and their commitment to the work ethic, he wondered how earning a livelihood could be regarded as a negative.
This young man never anticipated that he would encounter difficulties finding a shidduch. To his dismay, however, shadchanim informed him that “good girls” were simply not interested in “working boys” even if they followed a disciplined regimen of daily Torah study.
My Dear Friend:
I understand and sympathize with your disenchantment. It’s very hurtful to be treated unfairly. Obviously, you are devoted to Torah study and are at a loss to understand why you are being labeled. But in all fairness, aren’t you doing some labeling yourself when you write, “All the good girls are looking for full-time learners”?
Is that really a fair statement? I happen to know many girls committed to Torah who come from excellent families and who are desirous of marrying young men like you who maintain a regular regimen of daily learning, daven with a minyan, and at the same time have become professionals. So it’s not as black and white as you make it out to be.
I believe we have altogether too little tolerance for anyone who doesn’t fit into our mold. So while you may have been unfairly judged, I am afraid that you are also judging unfairly.
As for your claim that most girls who spend a year studying in Israel are inculcated with the notion that “the only way a girl can obtain the kind of yiras Shamayim required of her as a Jewish wife and mother is to marry a boy who will learn in kollel or, at the very least, for several years after marriage,” here again it depends on how you view things.
Certainly, rabbis and teachers have the right to impart to their students the values their institutions represent. Girls and their families generally do their homework when choosing a seminary, so they are aware of and agree with the values espoused by the school of their choice.
Today, Baruch Hashem, there are many seminaries in Israel reflecting various shades and attitudes, and people are free to choose the school that best reflects their priority. What is important to remember, however, is that even if we do not personally subscribe to that particular point of view, we should regard it with respect.
We read in the Torah that even though each of the tribes of Israel had its own flag that symbolized its own unique gift and mission, the tribes were united as one. They were united because at the center of their encampment was the Mishkan – the Tabernacle of Hashem. Similarly, we too must forge our unity through our common love of Torah. The classic example of this is Yissachar and Zevulun. The tribe of Yissachar was devoted purely to Torah study, while Zevulun undertook to support Yissachar, but the Torah regards them as equal – as one.
So let us not deride those rabbis or seminary teachers who focus on learning, and by the same token, let us not label yeshivas and seminaries that are supportive of programs committed to learning and work.
We are too few in number to allow ourselves to be further fragmented by finger pointing and labeling. The Torah is the center of our lives and every Yid has a place in the great mosaic of Klal Yisrael.
After our liberation from Bergen Belsen, my beloved father, HaRav HaGaon, HaTzaddik Avraham Halevi Jungreis, zt”l, with tears flowing down his holy face, would say in Yiddish: “Noch a zoie churbon, men darf kushen yeden Yid” – after such a catastrophe, we have to kiss every Jew.
Now let’s get down to tachlis – a shidduch for you. May I suggest you come to our Hineni Heritage Center in Manhattan. We offer Torah classes, lectures, singles events, and so much more. As I mentioned above, there are many fine and good girls who would cherish someone like you, someone committed to learning, davening with a minyan, and giving tzedakah, and at the same time pursuing a profession.
B’Ezrat Hashem, we would be honored to help find your shidduch.Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis