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Regarding the letter from “No Son of Mine” (Chronicles April 14) that raised the issue of bochurim who devote their lives to learning only Torah – resulting in their inability to support themselves and their families, I sympathize with those parents who would prefer that their children do otherwise. In fact, I would suggest that such parents tell their children not to get married until they have worked out some plan or method to support a family – and remind them that at their wedding they will be making such commitment via the kesubah. How can one honestly make such commitment without being ready to fulfill it?
I take issue, however, with the author who blames the roshei yeshiva, rabbeim and their wives for this tragic situation. The heads of yeshivas who devote their lives to Torah and succeed in turning your son on to learning and devoting his life to Torah do not deserve to be condemned for doing a good job and being a role model for your son to follow. Teaching your son a profession or a method by which to make a living is not their responsibility – it is yours. I don’t believe there is a rosh yeshiva alive who will tell your son that earning a living or learning a profession is prohibited. Their goal is to instill in their talmidim the importance of having Torah take prominence in their lives.
Suppose your son went to college and had a dynamic teacher who devoted his life to a science and related research. What if the professor’s love and dedication for his field had rubbed off on your son, who would then acquire a burning desire to emulate his professor? Would the professor deserve to be accused of brainwashing your son or ruining his life and chances of making a living? More likely, the professor would be commended for his superior teaching abilities. The roshei yeshiva are no less worthy of respect.
There are various ways to help young couples focus on the concept of support and its reality in life. No yeshiva bochur has the right to ignore his impending responsibility to support a family. The Bais Yaakov and seminary girls could be of great help in alleviating the problem. I am amazed at the number of girls who say – without the slightest notion of what they are letting themselves in for – that they are looking for a learner. In addition to taking care of the children, the house and multiple other burdens that accompany marriage and motherhood, they will be required to provide the financial support for the family. Is this decision being made with yishuv hadaas, with sincerity, with love and devotion to Torah and a conscious effort to make sacrifices for the sake of Torah? The Herculean effort to create a home and a proper environment for nurturing a happy marriage and superior atmosphere to bring up children can lead to frustration and depression and take a devastating toll on the entire family.
One wonders whether it is the yetzer hara rather than the yetzer tov that encourages youngsters to be idealistic and enter into marriage waving the banner of Torah with no regard to the consequence of being unprepared. Perhaps the young ladies should inform the shadchanim that as much as they are truly committed to a marriage with a mate who is devoted to learning, he is also to have a sense of responsibility for taking care of his family – so that they can have, maintain and sustain a long-lasting happy marriage and proper home environment.
I would also suggest that the young men and young ladies approach their mechanchim who encourage them to commit to a life exclusively dedicated to Torah and request a reciprocal commitment: If they (the students) take on a life dedicated exclusively to learning Torah and, as a result, end up living in poverty, their children will be accepted into the Torah institutions tuition-free. This should give the decision-making process a jolt of reality.
Speaking of reality and responsibility, does the year in seminary (for a cost of $15,000-$20,000) really enhance the talents and further the goals of marriage and motherhood for our young ladies? The particularly disturbing fact is that they are expected to appear for Elul as well as arrange their own accommodations (eating and sleeping) for the duration of the Yomim Tovim. Mothers should arise and demand of the mechanchim that they personally care for these children as they would their own. Remaining home with their mothers to help with the preparations for Yom-Tov would be of greater benefit to the girls than the pirush of the Ramban on Chumash that they will be missing in Elul.
Everyone seems to be following a path geared toward creating an appearance of a superior candidate for shidduchim – instead of a derech that will mold a truly superior person. Our boys and girls go to yeshivas/seminaries with the best reputations, regardless of whether they belong there or not. Reality and responsibility get buried under the institution’s philosophies – resulting in the crisis we presently experience.
May we all be blessed with the wisdom and vision to guide our children in the proper derech.
Dear Mama Sorah,
Your comments are insightful and informative. Hopefully all those in a position to affect the shape of our children’s future are paying heed.
The holiday of Shavuos is upon us. As we commemorate the most significant event in the history of our people, let us not lose sight of the fact that, it is the tribe of Zevulun (merchant/parnassa seeker) that has the distinction of being divinely associated with the month of Sivan.
May we all be granted hatzlacha in appreciating and mastering the word of G-d. transmitted via His precious gift to us on Har Sinai.