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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Older Generation Needs Some Rest
A response to Jonathan Rosenblum's column

Marty Bluke put up a response to Jonathan Rosenblum's column Can We Talk Seriously About Poverty?

I don't subscribe to Mishpacha, but I can see it is one of the braver right wing Jewish publications for printing this response. Excerpts follow:

Jonathan Rosenblum is so close to solving the problem of poverty in the frum community. He mentioned 3 common solutions to this crisis: greater government support from taxpayers: who WORK, increased contributions from abroad (meaning us rich Americans who are up to our own eyeballs in debt and sinking fast but who WORK) and a simpler lifestyle. Are you getting a hint of the answer? If you need more money and Hashem is not handing it to you perhaps you need to go out and WORK. Not working but expecting money to come in is like not cooking and expecting dinner to be ready that evening....

Instead of making bochurim who choose to work feel like failures, we need to promote a balance of working and learning ...

My husband Akiva had a friend Reb Ephraim on the Monsey bus to Manhattan. One day, Reb Ephraim did not appear on the bus. Six weeks later, Reb Ephraim returned appearing pale and gaunt. Akiva asked how he was and what happened. Reb Ephraim said that he had had a heart attack but b"h recovered and was returning to work. Something about the answer didn't seem right so Akiva asked, "You are certainly past retirement age and you are obviously not completely recovered. Why don't you retire and go home to guard your health?" Reb Ephraim replied , "I would love to but I am supporting my married children and must continue to work." Some months later Akiva returned from work head hanging low. Reb Ephraim was niftar from a second heart attack. Akiva with tears shining in his eyes said: " I want to go the shiva house and tell the children they later are murderers for doing this to their father. This is kibud av v'eim?"

Highly related: Once again, ProfK is competiting with the Orthonomics blog :) . Her latest posts are observations about writing a bit about increasing lifespans and the fiscal, emotional, and time demands of families growing at both ends of the age spectrum (see here, here, here, and here). We simply cannot be placing the demands of younger generations on older generations which have their own (important) demands, as well as dreams to pursue.

16 comments:

triLcat said...

something sits wrong for me. It's mechubad for your parents to work but not for you to work?

Bizarre.

If my parents had to work to be able to help us, we wouldn't accept their help. My dad worked from the time he was in high school (summers as a camp counselor in high school & college) until he was 62. He planned for his retirement. Hashem has been kind to him, and he has enough to be able to help us some without compromising on his (and my mother's) lifestyle.

Interestingly, my parents did go "back to work" about a year ago. If anyone has a vacation budget that could use a good opportunity, send a message to drsavta at gmail dot com to find out about an awesome kosher/shomer shabbat tour to Viet Nam & Cambodia.

bluke said...

In this past weeks Mishpacha they printed a letter against the previous letter that I quoted. In truth, I have to say the letter was very inarticulate and didn't make much sense.

Thinking said...

I may be the minority here, but I don't see this as a communal problem, I see this is an individual problem. It is individuals who allows themselves to be manipulated or bullied into supporting this type of lifestyle.
My feeling is similar to that that I have about shidduchim. If people feel certain shidduch questions or expectations are inappropriate, hang up the phone. Several years ago a friend of mine got a call from a shadchan about a shidduch for his daughter. The shadchan told him that the boy's family wanted $50K in the bank from him so that he could learn for a few years after marriage. He hung up the phone immediately. Soon after his daughter got engaged and married.
Klal Yisrael has always had and will always have radical factions who believe that what they are doing is what the Ribbono Shel Olam wants. Intelligent individuals will always be able to see through this and do what the He really wants from them. Each parent needs to be responsible for their actions and learn to say no or that's enough.
We have to stop looking at everything as a communal crisis. It is an individual crisis that, unfortunately, has many victims.

ProfK said...

SL,
Many thanks for the links. And if Monday gets to be as busy as I think it will be, let me wish you and everyone reading here a Shana Tovah U'mesukah.

Anonymous said...

I've met many older couples like Reb Ephraim. Reb Ephraim's kids were not murderers.... he made a choice. First, by choosing to raise them to expect to be cared for until their adulthood. Don't send your kids to a school that teaches sloth as a Torah value. Second, by giving them the money (giving a drunk a drink). He could have said, "No... go get a job or live in poverty like thousands of years of gedolim have done." If your learning is that important to you, wear rags and eag beans/rice and live in a small shabby apartment. He chose to keep making the payment. I'm sure if the money dried up his kinds would not have starved.

Besides---I thought a kollel guy with no experience could come right out and make $50k/year...

SephardiLady said...

While I agree with Thinking and anonymous that choosing to support adult children is a CHOICE, the facts are on the ground that grandparents ARE filling in heavily for tuition (even for working families with modest lifestyles), there are many working families who rely on grandparents for regular sitting in order to work, and there is a large kollel population with large family sizes.

As support dries up, who will be left holding the ball?

Commenter Abbi said...

"As support dries up, who will be left holding the ball?"

Parents who choose not to work will be left holding the ball, they'll figure out sooner or later that they have to go to work. At first it will be crappy, but I think eventually, enough children of these families will see that this lifestyle is crappy and will want better.

I don't think it's that complicated. I appreciate thinking's reminder that this is a lot about individual choices, to a great extent.

Even this family from the letter- it's terrible, but now the children really are forced to work. They killed the golden egg layer.

triLcat said...

Still comes down to people having children they aren't willing and able to support. Same issue.

Children are their parents' responsibility until they are old enough to take care of themselves (18,21, whatever). They are not the responsibility of the grandparents, the neighbors, or the government.

Anonymous said...

SL-

You nailed the answer right there, traditionally grandparents have always tried to help out, this is not a new phenomenon. In the past it has either been financially or perhaps lending a hand with the grandchildren so that the parents could work. Now that grandparents have taken on both responsibilities, both financial and physical support we have reached the end of the line. Grandparents need to push back on their kids and not give them both physical and financial support. Let them choose between the two. The responsibility is on the parents to teach there children to make decisions on there own and not take back the responsibility from their children. The same way that children can cry to their parents for help they can cry to the tuition committee.

DAG said...

I am betting the Yeshiva world will grudgingly concede that this universal Kollel was a bad idea (that won't say it in those words, but the point will be made that more boys need to work).

The question is WHAT DO WE DO NOW with thousands of men with (large) families and NO skills?

DAG said...

Sorry...the question we need to ask..what do we do when the "Kollel Bubble" bursts?

34 and still in debt said...

I can't plan to support my children when they're adults. I'll still be paying down my own debt. :)

Mikeinmidwood said...

I always thought it was the children who support thier parents in thier old age (if they get there).

SephardiLady said...

Mikeinmidwood-I believe halacha stipulates that children provide their aging parents with a high level of (physical) service to meet their needs, but that the parents pick up the tab. Wish I had some references.

Like you. . . the "system" is clearly upside down and inside out.

rebecca said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

those of us who are children of holocaust survivors didnt have grandparent, so our parents did it all. most of them coming here with nothing and picking themsevles up, making a living, providing for their children to ohave better that they had in europe. in other cases grandparent survival was shorter- that genenration had to do it on on their own,
only now with all the medications for blood pressure, heart disease diabetes etc, are grandparens living longer.
that being said, its this new generation, the twenty somethings who have grandparetns and occaissionaly great grandparent to ask for money .
isnt it time to give those people a rest? even if they can afford to support the grandchildren, are they being just selfish?
how can you have any self respect if you cant support yourself