Thursday, June 08, 2006

Say what?: Are these the Middot we want to encourage?
By Throwing Money at the "problem?"

This jem of a piece was published in the Yated two weeks ago and nearly every part of the letter blows my mind and leaves me saying "what???" since it brings to light so many different issues and highlights so many issues with the shidduch system that apparently some would rather encourage, instead of fight. Since it would be near impossible to write up an entire critique, I am publishing the letter below and adding my comments in the margins.

Dear Editor,

As a young kollel wife living in Lakewood, my husband and I often "dabble" in shidduchim. On a typical week, we spend between ten and fifteen hours redding shidduchim to family members, friends and acquaintances.

I dabble. You and your husband are obviously very involved.

Through our experiences, between speaking with girls' parents, boys' parents, rabbeim, mechanchos and professional shadchanim, we have come across an extremely disturbing phenomenon. Let's title it "The Support Factor."

I agree. The "Support Factor" is disturbing. But, let's face it, this is a creature of the community's own making!

A boy who wants to learn in kollel may realistically anticipate the need for solid financial support over the next few years. At the same time, parents of many girls express deep concern regarding how they will be able to support their sons-in-law who are learning. The parents of these girls come from many different places - some are from New York, others from out of town, some are mechanchim, while others are ba'alei batim with large families and many children to take care of. They cry to us, and to other shadchanim, that their daughters cannot get dates, though they are good girls from fine families. Other than the select few - meaning those who are wealthy or whose families are smaller - most of girls' parents seem to be saying the same thing: The numbers just don't add up.

  • A few notes:

    It is not impossible to "get dates," but it might be impossible to get dates with the people you desire to date. When an older Ba'al Teshuva Cohen with children is having a hard time getting dates, I cry. When a 21 year old lady cannot get a date with the exact type of guy she wants to date and she won't consider anything less, I don't shed so many tears. Many people can't have exactly what they want, whether it be materially or spiritually. That is life!

    Parents: There is no need to stay up late at night worrying about how you will support your future son-in-law (more about this in a future column). My recommendation: give your daughter a budget that YOU can afford and that YOU are willing to give her with an open hand and an open heart. You can give that budget in anyway you choose: a lump sum, a monthly budget that increases, decreases, or varies with circumstances, or help with babysitting. Stop worrying and let figure out the best way to approach her goals in life.

    Parents: There is no good reason to shield your daughters from reality. If they are old enough to marry and old enough to have children, they are old enough to prioritize and make decisions for their (future) family and for their children's chinuch. Protecting your children from making decisions within the confines of reality will only lead to disappointment. By shielding your children, are you really doing them a favor?

An elementary-school rebbi recently called my husband to ask for a shidduch for his daughter. This rebbi has a large family and is now looking for a shidduch for his eldest child. He told my husband, "My wife and I can barely cover our own mortgage and make it through the month. How will I be able to give my daughter $1,000 a month? If I squeeze, I can maybe afford $300 a month. "

Wait one minute! We are constantly being told that a wife can support a family in a "kollel lifestyle" on her job alone. If the parents can squeeze $300 a month out of their budget to "support," and the daughter and her future husband make a conscious decision to live on the bare minimum, it doesn't sound like anyone will starve! And, if they do suffer? Well, once again, they can make decisions to reflect their reality!

My husband explained to him that a young couple living on the bare minimum in a basement that is a 35-minute walk away from the yeshiva (Bais Medrash Govoah) will require at least $2,000 a month (and that is the smaller end of the estimate). If a couple would seek a larger apartment, or if they need to cover their own health and car insurance, the monthly sum is much greater. How is this rebbi to cover even those basic costs?

Well, I don't know much about the living costs in Lakewood. But, I'm having a hard time believing that a couple can't get by on anything less than $2000 a month. And, I see no problem with living on the "bare minimum" in a basement apartment or living a 35-minute walk from the Bais Medrash.

Let us not mistakenly think that it is only the rabbeim who are suffering. After speaking with the elementary-school rebbi, my husband received a call from a different mother regarding her single daughter. This girl's parents both work and earn a nice living, yet they, too, felt that they could not give more than X dollars a month, a sum which would be balked at on today's discriminating shidduch market. The mother explained that, as working parents, they do not enjoy some of the "breaks" that those in klei kodesh, such as a rebbi, receive. At the same time, the simple fact that her husband is a ballabus does not guarantee that extra money is available each month. These parents, who are both hardworking people, have seen their daughter rejected many times because of their inability to give more than a certain amount of money per month.

The writer is correct that, by definition, a ba'al ha'bayit is not loaded. But, once again, this crisis is, in many ways, brought on by the demands of a single who can only imgine herself married to a kollel yungerman. To me this demand is as ridiculous as a young lady refusing to date men who are not M.D.'s and then proceeding to complain to all their friends how they cannot get dates. Yes, I understand that it is more difficult for young ladies to find dates than young men, but when you categorically refuse entire classes of dates, you aren't helping yourself!

My husband is in daily contact with one of the known shadchanim in the Jewish world. Often, the two of them share stories and exchange ideas for shidduchim. Recently, while discussing this dilemma, the shadchan told my husband an outstanding story, which my husband has repeated (with permission) to several rabbonim and known askonim in our community.

The story goes as follows: This shadchan was recently out-of-town for a chasunah. One of the baalei batim from the community approached him during the chasunah and said, "What do you think we should do about the shidduch crisis? While I myself do not have any children in shidduchim, I would like to do something to help the situation. What can I do?"

The shadchan noted another man standing nearby and said, "You see that man over there? He has a daughter in shidduchim, but she cannot get a date because he can only afford to give her $500 a month. Match that amount, and pledge an additional $500 a month on her behalf?" "Done," the man said, pledging himself to $6,000 a year. "Would you be willing to pledge to support them for five years?" "Done," the ballabus said, now increasing that amount to $30,000 over five years.

Ah, the solution to every problem. . . throw money at it! I should have known.

The shadchan then explained to my husband that he encounters, on a day-to-day basis, girls who are rejected for shidduchim because their parents do not have a certain amount of money to "put down." The shadchan proposed that the askonim in our community, who are so willing to give tzedakah for yeshivos and other worthy causes, help the shidduch crisis in an innovative, practical and concrete way: by pledging money to help support girls who wish to marry kollel boys. This can be organized on a community-wide basis, meaning that each community can "match" an askon to a girl who would benefit from the extra support. In a larger community, this can be organized by shul, school, or neighborhood, meaning that people from each neighborhood can be matched together in a type of "Yissochor-Zevulun" relationship.

So, basically the solution proposed is that the community should encourage what can only be considered bad middot, by giving into the demands of boys who refuse dates with fine girls because their parents can't provide? I wouldn't call this is a solution at all: I'd call it aiding and abetting terrible middot!

Basically, we should encourage less support for Jewish education, and more support for young men who are demanding that everyone (the wife, the parents, donors, grandparents, the government, and the community) should support them? I wouldn't call this is "Yissachar-Zevulan" relationship at all!

Funds pledged to these girls now have a two-fold purpose: Firstly, these funds can help alleviate shidduch-related stress from parents who previously had difficulty with support. An indirect, though by no means secondary effect, is that this money will help support a kollel couple in need when the girls do find their zivugim. In this way, the money will be working double-time, doubling the dividends and zechuyos achieved.

After discussing this issue with the shadchan, my husband approached an askon who is a close family friend, and presented this idea before him. Surprisingly, without batting an eyelash, this man thought of four girls he knows in need of shidduchim, and personally pledged money on their behalf.

The problem is not that the money isn't there; it's that the idea is simply yet to be implemented!

Well, the money might be there. But, there are still limited funds. And, when the money from big donors is re-routed from Kollelim to Chatanim, it will come as no surprise when kollelim as coming up short for payroll. As it is right now, elementary schools in Lakewood are unable to fund themselves. Let's not be surprised when these schools are in more red than they are in currently, if this plan takes hold (and, judging by the fact that nearly every program, but funding K-12 education is able to take hold, I won't be surprised if I end up on mailing lists for such a program soon!).

Some of you might be skeptical, maintaining that the "support factor" is not what is hindering many girls' shidduchim. You may be shocked to hear this: A girl's family was finding it difficult to get through to a boy. When my husband called up the boy's mother, she explained that she had heard the girl's name, but she had also heard that the girl's parents could only afford "X amount" per month.

When my husband mentioned that this was no longer the case, as a "wealthy grandparent" was providing additional funds for the girl, the mother thought about it and said, "Well, now it's a different story. We'll definitely look into it again since that was the only issue stopping the shidduch."

As a parent, I personally wouldn't be thrilled to look into the shidduch at all now! But, I digress. Let's just hope that the donor doesn't default on a payment and the "grandparents" end up with one angry chatan on the telephone line.

Oh, and goodluck to a kallah who is only being looked at for her "assets." I'm glad my husband doesn't think of me as a balance sheet and income statement! (Although, I should add, my husband is thrilled I know how to run a fiscally sound household!)

Members of our community, and Yated readers in particular, are acutely aware that we are in the midst of an unprecedented shidduch crisis. The number of single boys and girls increases each year. Girls despair over the lack of prospects, while boys complain that they are inundated with "names" and "lists" of girls. Our response to this crisis has been: shidduch forums for discussion, shidduch meetings to help minimize the crisis and community-based funding offering shadchanim "bonuses". Jewish newspapers, such as the Yated, print letters almost every week, filling column upon column of readers lamenting the shidduch crisis. In the end, we have only achieved a sad awareness of how hard it is to tackle this issue and how far we have to go.

And the bottom line is this: People are willing to do almost anything to help with shidduchim. With the crisis gaining momentum each year, we must be "michadesh"; we must come up with new and innovative ways to help each other. Responses and comments can be emailed to Tizku l'mitzvos and thank you.

(I'm guessing that my ideas of expanding the shidduch pool for young ladies and accepting the fact that not every parent can or should try to "support" is neither "new," nor "innovative," nor "wanted" advice?)

M. H


Anonymous said...

It is important to note the problem is in fact systemic because those parents of girls in search of a good "learning" shidduch are also parents of boys who demand support as well. Yeshivish type families are not only comprised of girls!

Orthonomics said...

I agree with you that when the tables are turned, the same parents crying that their girls can't get dates will be weeding out the girls without enough assets for their boys.

There is plenty of ridiculous behavior in the shidduch world that one could blog for years.

Jewboy said...

The emphasis on money in shidduchim is tragic and goes against every hashkafa the yeshivish world preaches. All the teachers in yeshivos and seminaries emphasize how gashmias and material wealth in this world are not important, and then the message guys get is they need a rich father-in-law to support them in learning. The bottom line-the Gemara in Kiddushin says that those eho marry for money will have improper offspring. This phenomenon is truly tragic and we can only hope some people will see the light.

Charlie Hall said...

'Many people can't have exactly what they want, whether it be materially or spiritually.'

A profound and true statement.

'demanding that everyone (the wife, the parents, donors, grandparents, the government, and the community) should support them? '

What about getting a job and learning when one isn't working? There are many part time kollelim (including one that is a few blocks from me). I have a demanding job yet I am somehow (thank you, Artscroll!) keeping up with the Daf Yomi. I just can't believe that supporting K-12 Jewish education should not a higher priority that supporting adults.

'Many people can't have exactly what they want, whether it be materially or spiritually.'

And we in the Jewish community need to realize that we do not have the resources to give every child a Jewish education and to keep every man who wants to in kollel. We can't have everything.

I was just talking to a mother in shul this past Shabat who is seriously considering public school for her child because they can't afford the tuition. I am aware of other frum families who have dropped out of the Jewish educational system. The system is broken. The 40 year effort by the OU and Agudath Israel to get government support for yeshivot has failed. We need another way. Can anyone lead?

(Please do not think that I do not support Jewish education! I daven fairly often at a local MO high school. Every time I go there, this public school product wishes that he had had the opportunity to have attended a school like that. But this is going to be available to fewer and fewer unless something different is done.)

Anonymous said...

The bride's father's commitment to support the young couple actually was a tradition in European communities all the way back in Medieval times. But there are 2 major differences.
1. The young couple did not get their own apartment -- not even a basement one. They got to live in the home of the bride's family. So they probably ate meals with them and so did not get an allowance for food. And in those days, clothing purchases were indeed rare. Medical insurance was nonexistent.
2. The young couple was very younhg -- the husband could be only 13-16 and his wife 12-15. They were not "young people" in their 20s but people we would call children today.

Back to contemporary times:
I have a relative whose daughter falls into the yeshivishe type crows but insists she wants a man "with a plan" -- meaning a career plan. That has seriously hindered her shidduch prospects. As she was told by a shadchan from a well-known yeshivish community: "Here, plan is a four-letter word."

I have another relative who does want to purchase a top-notch son-in-law for his only daughter. But he has many younger children, and I have not idea where he intends to come up with that kind of money when he has so much to pay in tuition without a truly high level income. I suggested in conversation with my husband that the girl is better off seeking a type of boy of some people we know who are not likely to insist on such financial terms. But my husband says that this relative would not want to settle for a boy from what is perceived as a second-rate yeshiva.

Anonymous said...

On a lighter note: my oldest is a boy -- yet far from shidduch age. But I ask how much we will be able to "sell" him for. Perhaps we should start taking bids now to allow them to relaly mount up over the years. Then the shidduch questions will be easily answered. Just take the highest bidder. ;-)

themarykaygal said...

Ariella, I'll start the bidding at 5 bucks. I don't have a girl yet, but hope to someday. :) I suppose I have to start saving up now before I even give birth since the expectation is that I'll financially help support my grown children. RIGHTO.

I must not be very Jewish. My husband and I met each other before our parents ever talked. He didn't fit any of the REQUIREMENTS on my LIST. We had a financial plan (student loans/grad school for 2 years), then get married and both of us work until we have children--- before we even CONSIDERED marriage.

I'll be teaching my children how to WORK for a living and earn money on their own so that they'll never need to depend on us. I'd love to be able to afford the ocassional gift--- I have no problem with $200 for a birthday or some baby furniture when my kids have kids.... but hundreds of dollars in support every month? They're grown ups. Get a job.

This is such a hot button for me. Great post.

queeniesmom said...

Where did we go so drastically wrong in our outlook that being a human parasite is now something to be desired?!

Parents need to reevaluate what their children are learning in school and more importantly in Israel during Shanah Alef and Bet. A large amount of brainwashing seems to be going on, especially in the girls school - girls that we know who left with college and further education goals (eg medical or professional degrees) are now becoming kollel kallahs and settling for whatever job they can find. How long before they can't afford to support their husband and children? Then do "we, the community" have to support them?

As you so rightly point out, this latest plan will further cut an already divided pie. At the current rate of tuition this won't be a problem because all our kids will be back in public school with talmud Torah educations due to the obscene tuition rates. We pendulumn will have swung backwards by about 30 years.

Orthonomics said...

Great comments everyone.

Jewboy-I still owe you a Chofetz Chaim on asking in-laws for money. Count on it being up soon!

Ariella-Maybe you could add a bidding section to your next magazine for your son and see if you get any hits. Seems there are plenty of people out there that are happy to sell their daughter off! Let's say, we are not one of that ilk.

Queensiemom-I am thinking about a post about how to control the "brainwashing" with budgets. As far as I can see, when parents constantly bail their children out, they do no favors.

Thanks everyone for your comments. I expect more will be coming. Shidduchim combined with money is always a hot button topic.

Pragmatician said...

Interesting article, even better commentary on it.
As you pointed out this whole system has to backfire sooner or later.
Lucky (or unlucky if you prefer) receivers of Tzedakkah will have a good (but dependable?) income while Kollels will struggle harder to find funds.

Anonymous said...

The crisis can't be resolved unless the yeshiva community can find a way to support so many kollel boys without relying on the previous generation. It is simple math. Either find a systematic way to fund things on a communal level or teach kollel boys a trade so they can make money to support their families.

Anonymous said...

For the record, there was a letter in the Yoseid the following week (or perhaps the week after), from a Kollel guy in Lakewood (who signed his name), questioning the 2,000/month 'bare minimum' figure.

Anonymous said...

The answer is very simple. Kick guys out of Kollel. In der alter heim (i.e., the Old Country), only a small handful of guys learned full-time. The best of the best would learn and obtain support for learning. The rest learned a trade and learned in their spare time.

Rashi was a vinter. Rambam was a physician (I think Ramban was as well, but I forget). The Chatam Sofer was a community rabbi. The Abarbanel was some bigwig in his community. Rebbi Yehoshua (Mishna) was a blacksmith. These men had jobs, yet learned Torah.

I believe in learning, and I believe in full-time learning -- for the best of the best. The rest of us should get jobs and learn as much as we can.

Orthonomics said...

I have to wonder if the guys who demand money would demand it whether or not they were learning?

Anonymous said...

I have heard the "brainwashing" comment too often to not respond to it now. Let me ask you. You are sending your sons and daughters to institutions of higher learning that will inspire them and mold them. Were a yeshiva or seminary to only focus on dry intellectual subject matter and not try to inspire, we would all think that was a bad yeshiva. So when your son and daughter does get motivated to live his or her life according to highest ideals of that institution, why are you surprised and upset? Shouldn't you be overjoyed that your goal in sending them to that yeshiva/seminary has been successfully accomplished? Why (the frankly insulting) comparison to a cult by referring to this as brainwashing? Does anyone call Rosh Yeshivei before they send to a yeshiva and ask "Do you believe in sending to college after X years of learning?" "Do you believe that most boys should be working to support themselves and their families?". B"H we live in an era where there are yeshivas where the answer will be yes. And B"H we live in an era where there are yeshivas where the answer to that question is no. We are privelaged to have a smorgasboard of options to choose from. Whatever you do, please refrain from the "brainwashing" term. Your children are making informed decisions. Who makes them informed is up to you.


Anonymous said...


In that case, let those who "informed" them and got them into this mess solve the problem.

I believe that only the best and the brightest should be learning all day. Just like the PhD departments in chemistry, engineering etc. only give scholarships to the best of the best.

Also, don't you think it brings down the whole kollel system when everyone is expected to join? youhave so many clowns who ruin it for the select few that actually deserve to be there and lead the torah learning.

Anonymous said...

One issue that the yeshiva world ( outside of RIETS and its kollelim) avoid like the proverbial plague is the evaluation of the merits of the would be chasanim who pitch themselves to the youg ladies of our communities. Are these gentlemen true Talmidie Chachamim ? Do you they have to pass bchinos, give chaburos and shiurim and publish in Torah journals from their yeshivos? Do many or most of them have a plan if it turns out that they won't become Gdolim? Have they considered other aspects of Kli Kodesh such as chinuch or would they then play catch up ball and go for a professional degree or the equivalent and wind up several years behind their competitors in the job market?Do they view themselves as long time learners even if they do not show promise to become Gdolim? WADR,these issues are not going to go away and IMO they are very legitimate concerns for parents.

Anonymous said...

We tend to forget that the concept of Kollel, originally met the creme de la creme of Talmidie Chachamim from where Gdolim emerged. In 21st Century USA and EY, it is now viewed as a form of either marriage training for the Shanah Rishonah and beyond-regardless of whether one will emege as the 1/1000 Gadol.

IMO, families should understand that there are a number of informal classifications of potential shidduchim among the young men within all of our yeshivos.I think that many of us know about many "types" of young men within the yeshivos of the US and EY. At the risk of sounding ignorant and without prejudice to allowing anyone to supplement or delete these categories, I would use at least the following classifications and definitions:

1) Long time learner and potential Gadol

2) Long term learner with undefined potential

3)Long term learner unwilling to define outer limits of years to be learning regardless of presence or absence of potential

3) Long time learner with plan towards chinuch , kiruv, safrus or rabbanus

4)Learner for as long as possible wihout plan but views chinuch as default strategy

5) Learner but realistic to consider profession other than kli kodesh

6) learner/earner

7) earner who masquerades as a learner.

These typologies and others tend to exist in all yeshivos, although some have different darchei halimud and focus, etc.

It behooves anyone who is in the process to establish what one is looking for both ideally and what all available resources can be be brought "to the table." Unfortunately, the letter that you analyzed depicts a fantasy scene that really doesn't help the average family all that much.

Orthonomics said...

Steve-Thank you for your comments. I personally cannot understand why Beis Medrash programs (outside of YU and REITS) don't have solid programs that train interested candidates for chinuch. When I say solid programs I mean coursework and hands on work including student teaching.

The side benefit of such programs would be that those interested in someone in chinuch would be able to see someone making progress towards such a goal.

You wouldn't believe a person was actually interested in becoming an engineer if their coursework did not include a calculus series, a physics series, and an intro to engineering?

ggggg said...

Good post!

Abacaxi Mamao said...

Great post! I live in a different place (metaphysically, not geographically), where things aren't much better, although I, B"H, have found my way despite my neighbors. "What are you talking about?" you ask? I recently posted something on my blog about the Orthodox singles scene on the Upper West Side of New York, where people aren't looking for permanent, full-time learners, but for other superficial characteristics that don't truly tell you what is inside a person.

jewchick said...

Great Post...
There is a yeshiva, run by Rabbi Sackett, where the guys learn half the day, and the other half are tought blue collar jobs - construction, electrical work. I'm a big fan:

cool yiddishe mama said...

Readers of my blog know about a friend who has been having a lot of trouble lately. A recent suggestion given to him for "improving his life" was to start learning in the kollel. Now, he is far from being a talmid chacham (and the first to admit it) and has to learn at a slow pace to ensure that he understands it. He had approached this ba'al ha-bayit about job contacts (since my friend wants to work more than anything right now).
However, he did decide that as soon as the job situation stablizes, he will re-immerse himself in small amounts of daily learning.
I think the kollel study suggestion must have been made under the delusion that every male belongs in a kollel and this will straighten out his life by attracting a potential kallah to this "kollel bocher".

Anonymous said...

I thought of a comeback when a prospective parent asks someone who doesn't have enough money if they have enough money to support their son f/t for many years.

"I may not have a lot of money, but I apparently have more money than you do emunah."

Anonymous said...

The problem is a lifestyle shift. It used to be that if you wanted the charedi life of learning, you sacrificed a great deal. In Tamar Rotem's book on charedi women in Israel, she recalls that when she was part of that community around the early 1970s, she only had an ice box because her husband regarded a refigerator as a luxury. Contrast this with the real luxuries (custom sheitels, full suites of fine furniture, expensive watches, etc.) regarded as necessities by today's couples. Now more people want to have the kollel experience but without the hardship. And it seems the wives cannot be counted on to EARN money; they can only bring in their parents' earnings,

Anonymous said...

As usual, SephardiLady, right on the money.

MRN -proud to be shomeret mitzvot and don't you dare call me Yeshivish!

Yoel.Ben-Avraham said...

I hope I'm not "off topic". I taught a special program for "Benei Torah", a sort of occupational retraining to help them enter the high-tech industries here in Israel.

I'd like to believe that the "pendulum" is swinging back. Immediately after WWII the Torah woerld threw itself totally into the re-creation of what was lost.

Now, sixty years later with more Torah scholars per capita than in any period of Jewish history, the economic reality is that parents with large families cannot realistically support sons & daughters, and their progeny after them ...

As a result, slowly and I'll admit grudingly, the Torah and 'charedi" communities are gradually recognizing the need to return to the Baale Beitishkeit that existed in Europe. Hence the growing trend to learn a profession after a few years of acquiring a good Torah education.

Anonymous said...

I don't think there's much that I can say that has not beed said already. I believe that everyone in this world should be earning a living and giving back to the community. A man who is cut out for serious Torah learning should still be teaching or leading a yeshiva or something. There is no excuse for someone to "just learn" all day and not be using his learning for something constructive. And if one is not cut out for full-time learning, he should be doing something that agrees with him more. Career counseling, anyone? Torah learning is extremely important, but not in a vacuum. I truly believe that H-shem does not want us to learn Torah exclusively. He wants us to live and that means functioning within a community and giving back, using your kochot.

DAG said...

Must disagree with you EEssie..scholarship for scholarhip sake has inherent worth. But as was pointed out, those who qualify for such MUST be the top of the top...

Anonymous said...

SephardiLady -

Was brought over to this post by OM. I agree with most of what you said. However, you seem to not understand that MOST/MANY boys out there have virtually no plan. I know plenty of girls that want to date boys that are in college or are already working. They have very few dates.

Let's be real here. If YOU were given a choice whether to enter the workforce, or to sit back and let someone else take care of you while you sit and read books all day, what would you choose? Well, we give that option to boys every day. Would you rather work hard every day to earn a meager paycheck that can barely pay the rent, or would you like to feel good about yourself by learning and ask Daddy for money?

So boys make the obvious choice, and this society reinforces it by calling it the frum choice. The righteous choice. And maybe it is. And maybe it isn't. That's neither here nor there. But the fact is that because there's that choice out there, there are very few boys to choose from that will NOT ask your parents for money.

I was adamant that my parents NOT support us. But most of the boys I went out with were still in college! Or wanted to learn for a year. My husband was in his last year of college, and wanted to go to grad school. We ended up nixing the grad school idea, but we still had a hard time. I was working, we had a one-room apartment for $400 a month, and somehow we still needed to ask for about $3000 for the year. AND, we didn't have a baby right away!

With skyrocketing costs in tuition AND real estate, it seems that all walks of life, be it kollel or not, need some sort of financial support.

Orthonomics said...

Deemer, Hope you will come around. You are correct that most of these boys (and girls, for that matter) do NOT have a plan. And, that is exactly why throwing money at them is problematic.

It gives them more and more time to do without getting a plan, which is why I called it "aiding and abetting."

I agree that even working couples may find themselves in need of assistance. But, the assistance that comes with a plan is a completely different subject!

Anonymous said...

The letter is just totaly ridiculous. I for one am making sure that my 17 year old son is recieving an EDUCATION because i don't expect him to be supported. Also, i tell my son : "marrying rich is great but if you can't support that rich brat in her lifestyle then you you will be a shmattah your whole life....and that'll make you life a living hell."

Anonymous said...

Look, kollel is not for everyone. What should be happening instead of this system, which began with good intentions but has gotten out of hand, is that:

1) Kollel should be encouraged and supported (maybe part time rather than full) for 1-3 years after marriage. And this kolel should be geared toward:
a) being prepared for the halachic issues that arise in the workplace, business and above all family.
b) identifying and encouraging those who are most suited to be involved in the WORKING rabbanus, chinuch, kiruv, chessed etc.

2) Only those select few who truly have the potential to go on to become the gedolim or at least the poskim of their communities should be supported more than 3 years at the most, and even these people must teach or somehow involve themselves with the community in order to earn their keep.

Full time kollel was never meant to be de rigeur (sp) for everyone.

Anonymous said...

Wow you moved off topic.

As long as guys want to learn, and they have people to support them, they will choose girls from those families, while not giving the other girls a chance. A guy who wants to learn a few years in confident that he will find someone to support him. Why should he "settle" on someone who will not be able to support him?

That is his option and you can not take that away from him.

On top of that is the idea that in Europe not everyone learned. Shkoiyach. We are not in Europe and the Gedolim of this and the past generation have ruled that full time learning is the best option for a young man. Some have ruled that do to immorality at the workplace, it is the ONLY option. That being so, many boys want to learn a number of years - without going into chinuch, without working on the side, without learning a trade on the side. And just because some girls are from poor families isnt going to stop the trend and the wishes of the .yougn man,

Also, I guess you think YU is the only yeshiva that puts people in chinuch, but that of course is not true. Besides for Torah Umesorah programming and training, there are out of town kollels which specialize is education and putting people in front of the classroom.

Couple that with the fact that for any guy in Lakewood (Ill say 95% to be safe) YU is passul and treif (and most of them dont know why), comparing a yeshiva to YU wont get you very far.

Shavua Tov

Anonymous said...

I agree with most of this post, but I must take issue with your lack of sympathy for the girls. You have to realize that these girls are trained (I'll avoid the word "brainwashed" to keep from getting off topic) to believe that (a) only a guy who is sitting and learning is worthy of respect, and (b) the only way for them to achieve a high level in olam haba is to help support a guy who is sitting and learning. Yes, there are some girls who can go through the bais yaakov system and see through this -- but for many of them, the constant hammering of it sinks in, and their desire to marry a learning guy is not merely a preference.

The root of this problem is with an educational system whose major goal is not to produce good frum Jews who are shomer mitzvos and have good middos, but to produce guys who will sit and learn and girls who will support them.

Anonymous said...

I think thst the girls' High Schools and parents have to change their approach. Rather than emphasize Kollel as the be all and end all they should emphasize true Torah values. Torah im Derech Eretz as espoused by Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch is the way to go.
It has gotten so bad that our son who is in Medical School and has to be rounding at 6:30 AM and gets off duty at, anywhere from 6-11PM in the evening after which he has to eat,study and hopefully sleep has been rejected because he doesn't devote enough time to learning.
Our system is raising a very sick and bankrupt, certainly bankrupting, system.

Jameel @ The Muqata said...


At some point or another, the money is going to dry up. It's already happening in Israel (as a result of government subsidies cuts to Kollel families) and it's causing serious poverty.

Even worse, the Charedi parties are the at mercy of the government and sacrifice whatever hashkafic or political idealoogy they may have (or the Charedi communiy) to get whatever money they can out of the government. They are told: join the coalition, or forget about funding.

Orthonomics said...

Anon 11:58-There is no question that (in general) the guys are in charge when in comes to shidduchim. This is why (see Danielle's comments) I believe that the girls need to be the ones to broaden their horizons. And, rather than searching for what they can't "buy," search for something (oop,s I mean someone) more "affordable."

There is no question that the educational system is one of the root causes of the system. I don't want to use the word "brainwashed" either, but a culture has definitely been created (not just in BY, seminaries can created it quite effectively too for girls from more modern backgrounds) that values only the full time learner. (I know someone who finally gave in and took a date with a working guy and got married to him. At over 30 years old, she still only wanted a learner. 30 years old!)

Anonymous said...

My BY theory and as a grad: The BY system does not encourage questioning. They are afraid that you will become too smart and not want to marry one a kollel guy. I have many BY-graduate friends that would be v. happy to date a guy in med school. ANON -- i doubt it is too hard for your son to find a date. And if for some odd reason it is, you must be looking in the wrong circles.

Anonymous said...

There are many good seminaries out there but I have seen a lot of girls drastically switch their live goals at a switch of a hat. They went in to seminary thinking they would get married maybe in a few years and then they come out all eager to get married right away. Many drop out of top business schools, etc.

I think a lot of tactics used are brainwashing. I mean, they reinforce and reinforce and reinforce and reinforce the duty of a woman to get married. They say, have a career after. The "molds" teach the younger ones and people want to fit in. It's natural. Since all there friends are doing

Anonymous said...

Since all their friends are doing the same thing, they are pressured by peer pressure to do that. The seminaries tell the girls, you don't need to feel pressured to have a career and support yourself. But what about the ones that don't get married right away?????????

Anonymous said...

Girls are married off like being at a meet market, they are manufactured and if they don't want to get married they are treated as if they are wierd or something is wrong with them but people continue bugging them and bugging them. Come on these girls are 18 - 25 Many of them still need to work on their self esteem and telling them that marriage is the answer to everything and the end goal might not ring true to all of them. It upsets a lot of women who feel not valued. Women aren't just baby making machines nor are they marriage puppets. Just because one person has found immense happiness in marriage doesn't mean that everyones ready at the one 'age'. If you are over 25, people ask what are you waiting for???? People should get married when they feel ready. They shouldn't be pushed into it by these marriage/baby making seminaries and never develop their self esteem outside of being a 'couple'. It's good that people are brought towards being religious but it's a whole other thing when people are pressured into doing things they don't necessarily believe in just because it's considered the norm. Is there integrity in that?

Anonymous said...

According to Anonymous. "Some have ruled that do to immorality at the workplace , it {full time learning) is the ONLY option."

So the boys will hide in a kollel due to the immorality in the workplace, and the women will instead go to the workplace. It doesn't make any sense at all.

Anonymous said...

Do you mean that a woman who goes to an office and gives orders will not be willing to come home and be the woman in the Gemara (pours his cup of wine, etc.) ?

a) No more women in the office
b) No more college for women
c) Men go to work, with 4 - 5 years of Bais Medrash & or college (max 6 years!)
d) No more parent subsidies except possibly, and I'd encourage this,
to pay tuition for their children's children - the grandchildren.

e) bye bye Vort, etc.