A Yated Letter writer had this to say (in regards to shidduchim, but he really could have been writing about any subject):
"I’m not a rabbi or an authority on the matter. I don’t have any advice to offer, except, perhaps, the idea that when money is the solution to every problem in Klal Yisroel, then that is a problem in itself."
Unfortunately, much of the advice that can be found in any society, and ours is certainly no exception, is that problems can and should be solved by "throwing money at it." For those who lack the funds (or just don't want to divert the funds), these "solutions" can be hurtful, because they aren't solutions at all. Funds or no funds, I am of the opinion that throwing money at a problem rarely attacks the root cause.
Shidduchim : Shidduchim may be the area where the popular solution of late is to offer up money to fix the problem. Forget innovation or reevaluating expectations, green is the color of the day.
Problem: A girl's parents can't ante up the funds so their daughter can marry the kollel-learning prince charming of their choice? Solution: Pair up girls unable to land the dates of their choice with big givers who will fill in the financial gap where their parents left off.
Problem: Girls in Baltimore and Girls in Queens are having a difficult time getting married by the age of 22 and 2 months or 23, respectively. Solution: Pay shadchanim $2000 per shidduch made for a girl in either community. (Note: Baltimore is know paying $2,500. Guess $2,000 was no longer motivating enough)
Problem: There are more Orthodox girls dating than boys and boys want to date younger girls. Solution: The NASI (North American Shidduch Initiative) Fund looks to close the age gap between couples by providing an incentive of $750 to shadchanim of couples who are within two years of age of each other, $1250 to shadchanim of couples in which the chosson and kallah are less than a year apart, and $2000 for couple in which the girl is at least three months older than the boy.
Household Management/Shalom Bayit: The pressures of running a dual-income (or even a single income) home, especially if there are many children, can be enormous. Let's face it, sometimes we have too much on our plate. So we often hear talks about how important it is to have household help, get out with your husband for a date on a regular basis, etc, etc.
Now, sometimes these solutions can work their magic. But, for others, they are hardly a solution. If the funds aren't there (or have been designated for a different purpose), hearing about these solutions can leave one disappointed. Where is the creative thinking?
What types of organization systems can help our children put their things away? How can we help our children self-direct? What types of activities can help keep them out of our hair while we make an important call or pull together dinner?
How can those of us who have learned the ropes of managing a house share non-monetary solutions with those who can't/don't want to hire help? And how can those of us who want to learn more come together?
How about Shalom Bayit? Seems every young chatan is told how important gifts are to his wife and how he should make sure to always buy flowers for her every Shabbat. Hearing advice like this drives me batty! First off, who (besides Hallmark) assumed that all women want it flowers, jewelry, and chocolates? Maybe I am speaking for myself when I say, I want a cushion in the bank so I can sleep at night, and no crumbs on the countertop. Other women I know want flowers, perhaps at the expense of their budget.
(Hat Tip: Ariella of Kallah Magazine). Problem: Wife lashes out at husband and throws a chair. Solution: Buy her flowers. Perhaps the little I have read from this very popular internet Rabbi, I have read incorrectly. But, it seems to me that gifts isn't the solution to serious Shalom Bayit issues.
Problem: You want your son to learn more Torah. Solution: Father-Son learning programs offer some really cool prizes. This really could turn into its own post, but we have opted out of the motzei Shabbat learning programs for now. My son loves learning and I don't feel the need to ply them with soda, candy, and pizza to do so. And, as my readers know, I'm not much into raffles, even if you can win an IPod. This is a far cry from nuts and honey the Rambam suggests. (Also, with thanks for commenter "anonymous mom").
(Hat Tip: Once again Ariella) Problem: Kids can't be quite in shul. Solution: They should enter a raffle for a prize of $25 for not talking at specific time or $50 for not talking at all. What ever happened to role modeling and expectations?
And on that note, I'm looking forward to Rabbi Horowitz's next parenting column. Problem: A family wants to see their children get good marks in school. A Possible Solution: Pay them. I'm willing to predict that Rabbi Horowitz isn't going to buy into this solution.
The Yated writer is correct. When it seems like the solution to every problem is MONEY, that alone is a problem.