Avoiding Corruption in Shidduchim

In the fiction of my favorite frum novelist, Dov Haller, there are no real villains: No one is judged without the omniscient author explaining everything that brought him to his present situation(l’m’komo). Nevertheless, if one had to pick out the least sympathetic character in Haller’s recent novella, Whispers in the Wind, it would surely be Nochum Levine, the father of a prized bochur in Lakewood. The mere hint from Yosef Hoffer, the father of the girl whose shidduch with Nochum’s son has gotten off to a promising start, that the family business is not as rock solid as everyone thinks is sufficient for Nochum to immediately put a stop to the shidduch.

In the end, Nochum too has his day in court, as Haller valiantly tries to humanize him: Twenty-five years earlier Nochum too had been widely viewed as a future rosh yeshiva. But those were the days before people spoke of “money and support,” and after marriage, he found himself struggling to make ends meet, and barely able to keep his head upright when he has a few hours to learn Gemara at night. All he wants is to protect his son from the same fate.

I suspect that many of us with children in shidduchim found ourselves squirming uncomfortably when reading about Nochum Levine, and wondering whether there is not a little of him in us.

In Torah society, particularly in Israel, the size of one’s bank account confers little social status. Those who engage in conspicuous consumption are more likely to invite ridicule than admiration or even jealousy. Yet when it comes to shidduchim, we suddenly find ourselves discussing the financial status of complete strangers and having our own investigated, as if by Dun and Bradstreet. Suddenly, a bas Yisrael is evaluated not just by her yiras Shomayim, her simchas chaim, her chochma, but also in terms of her earning capacity. All in the name of ensuring the Torah learning of future generations.

Both Chazal and later authorities are filled with adjurations against marrying for money. At the same time, it is a reality that few young kollel couples will be able to make ends meet on their own, during the time that the husband is learning full-time, without either an apartment (until now the Israeli norm) or parental help with the rent (the American norm).

Nor was there ever a pristine past when financial considerations were totally absent from shidduchim. In Eastern Europe, a few scholars of outstanding promise were furnished with kest, which usually meant living with the wife’s parents for many years. Only the richest members of society could generally afford such an arrangement. The difference today is only in the numbers of those receiving the modern equivalent of kest.

So the question becomes: How can we talk about money, without becoming corrupt ourselves and completely inverting the Torah’s hierarchy of values for choosing a spouse? I have directed this question of late to some of the wisest people I know, and none of them claimed complete clarity.

The only sure way to rise above the challenge is to not let money play any role at all. I have heard of a number examples of parents of excellent bochurim who let shidduchim proceed to the end without any financial discussion for the simple reason that they were determined not to let it affect their son’s judgment of whom would be the most suitable partner for life. When the families met for the first time, they simply said, “Here is how much we have to give each of our children, and whatever else you can contribute will be fine with us.” Other parents of excellent boys readily agreed that the couple would live in towns on the periphery, where apartment prices may be a fourth of what they are in Jerusalem or Bnei Brak, because they were most interested in a bas talmid chacham for their son. (American readers will have to substitute their own equivalents.)

But these examples are far from the norm today, and they reflect a high level of bitachon that is likely beyond where most of us are holding. What can those who are not at that level, but who nevertheless cringe at evaluating another Jew in terms of their financial wherewithal do?

LET’S START WITH some clear-cut don’t’s. Don’t use money as a status symbol. The daughter of someone I know was told by her chassan that he had made the best shidduch of anyone in his vaad. His kallah modestly replied that each bochur finds the best shidduch for him, but was flattered nevertheless — at least until he clarified that he had been promised the most money of anyone in his vaad. Hopefully, that chassan was uniquely dense, but, in any event, he is no longer engaged.

Don’t let money be the first or second thing discussed with respect to a shidduch. One friend told me that whenever a shadchan calls up and asks first, “How much are you offering?” he responds, “To you [or your client] nothing. A gutten tag.” Those who speak first of money betray a complete misunderstanding of what marriage is about, and should be avoided. Overwhelming financial pressure can surely exact a toll on shalom bayis, but no amount of money can guarantee it.

A third rule of special importance to parents of girls: If the “best boy” has a price tag of $200,000, and you lack that kind of money, don’t think about it any more than you would think about purchasing a Maserati. It is not worth endangering one’s health and the ability to marry off subsequent children. A friend who has successfully married all his children told me that he realized early on that he was not in the class to afford the “best boy from the best yeshiva,” and had given the matter no more thought than the peasant does to the king’s daughter. Each one of his daughters is happily married to a serious ben Torah, who is a good father and husband.

PERHAPS ONE REASON that money is so much discussed in the context of shidduchim is that it provides the illusion of being something tangible, objective and measurable. Discussing a girl’s profession or her parent’s financial status helps bochurim or their parents feel that they have some control over the future. Even when they know that there is no profession that does not have its share of rich and poor, that no one can foretell the future or know what will be sought after in the employment market five or ten years down the line – in short, that hakol b’dei Shomayim – they desperately grasp on to that which has the air of being capable of objective measurement.

Bochurim who may never have talked to a girl other than their sisters or mother may hesitate to rely on their judgment of intangibles. But there is no way around it. One doesn’t have to be married many years to know that the qualities that most determine the success of a marriage are rarely capable of being easily measured. Nor are they the same for everyone. When the bas kol declares bas ploni l’ploni, it is in terms of the specific needs of each one to fulfill their tachlis in the world. And that requires every young man and woman in shidduchim to make their own evaluation – hopefully in consultation with someone of experience who knows them well – based on their unique character.

Even with respect to those matters to which money is most relevant – i.e., the nearly inevitable financial pressures that most adults experience sometime in their married life — intangible personal qualities, such as histapkus b’muat, will often be more determinative than the size of the girl’s dowry, in determining the toll those pressures take. More money often goes with greater expectations, and creates more tensions than it removes.

Long-range predictions, whether about a young woman’s earning capacity or a young man’s future in learning, are so often wrong precisely because they rely too much on that which is measurable. A gannenet (nursery school teacher) with drive, initiative and energy will often end up earning more than a computer programmer, and be less subject to the vagaries of the market.
And the same is true with predictions of long-term success in Torah learning. IQ results, even if we possessed them, would not do the trick, and even early hasmada does not always last. A bochur who makes do with an apartment in a smaller community may end up growing far more in his learning because of the greater opportunities to give shiurim. And the most important determinant of long-term growth in Torah learning is often the happiness of one’s marriage.

ADULTS GENERALLY SPEND a great deal more time worrying about money than their children ever suspect. Young people on the verge of marriage should know this. But it is even more important that they learn in their homes that such qualities as commitment, mutual respect, and consideration are the strongest foundation of a happy marriage.

The manner in which we as parents conduct financial discussions in shidduchim is one way to convey that message. The less obsessed we are about money, the less obsessed our children will be (though one can never underestimate the influence of friends.)

Perhaps the best advice I received is to approach financial discussions with no other agenda than the desire to give one’s children the best chance of building a stable home and on the assumption that one’s mechutanim want the same and will also do everything they reasonably can to help. No one should be expected to rob a bank.
I think that is ultimately the meaning of the repeated calls of the leading gedolim of Eretz Yisroel for the two sets of parents to divide the costs of an apartment between them. (At the rate that apartment prices are escalating, few families will be able to purchase even half of an apartment for numerous children, anyway.) There can, of course, be no absolute rule of equality between both sides since families will vary widely in their capacity to help. Rather the gedolim are saying that bochurim should not be treated as prizes to be sold to the highest bidder – an attitude that benefits neither the bochurim themselves nor the bayis ne’eman b’Yisroel that they hope to build nor the Torah to which they are dedicating their lives.

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27 Responses

  1. Another maybe says:

    Tzippi,

    I think the difficulty lies in the nature of work today. 9-5 does not exist, and definitely not to support a frum family. I know many friends who struggle with this along with myself. Does working 9-5 make sense if you still can’t pay full tuition? Should you find a job in a “profession”, which often requires a long commute and 10+ hours minimum of work in order to support yourself and live in a frum community? Big Maybe wrote that logically he is doing the right thing. I consult with gedolei torah in the issue as well, but that does not make it easy.

    Sure there are professions that are different,but learning in kollel for a few years and then wanting to work once there already are major chovos does make it easy to find a profession that makes a parnassah and allows one to feel sippuk in torah. Watching friends who are still in kollel makes it even harder.

  2. tzippi says:

    Big Maybe, I hope I’m not your wife. Wait, it’s been more than 20 years.
    Something I meant to put into my last post: I think we also have to educate our boys that the serious learner and balabos can be the same person, at different stages in life, with the balabos being built on the foundations of the years of learning.

    I just have to deal with my own guilt of not having been able to keep my husband in learning longer, of needing his help some evenings when the kids were little eating into his learning time (even while facilitating his having a pretty good attendance record at minyanim and morning, afternoon and evening learning). IOW, now we women have to feel guilty for not being super superwomen (because most of us are still superwomen) and wanting to spend time in our homes with our kids.

    What’s wrong with this picture?
    We hear stories of great people who joyfully ate on Yom Kippur if medically needed because this too was a mitzvah, from the same Source who commands to fast. Why aren’t men at least occasionally feeling some joy and self-respect from doing what they are supposed to be doing at this next stage of life? Particularly if they are proceeding with appropriate hadracha from mashgichim, other mentors, etc.

    I guess we better stop before this becomes a full rehashing of Chemotherapy as Metaphor.
    (I won’t even ask if the phrase “[a] top-in-learning bachur” implies that we should have some sort of meritocracy or weeding out process. That would make a lot of people happy, actually. Not that I’m necessarily one of them, just saying.)

  3. tzippi says:

    Robert Lebovitz: “For one who has chosen…”
    Is it really an either/or? What of those who start out learning full-time and left, ultimately, for the working world, yet maintain serious learning schedules, give high level shiurim, write sefarim, etc.?

    I may have said this elsewhere, my apologies, but I still remember a seminary teacher who asked me what my father did. I replied that he worked in the family business. The teacher knew my father and pressed, “No, what does he DO?” Ultimately I found out that the answer he wanted was that he learns, a lot, and managed to write several sefarim on the particular topic he’d made his avocation after leaving full-time learning. THAT was how the teacher wanted me to view life.

    And I think that that “What does he DO” can and should apply even to those who don’t have the stamina, background, etc. for such achievement. They should still be Jews who we can say are still animated by Torah study (on their level), and have a relationship with G-d through prayer and their good works that defines their essence more than any 9 -5 job.

  4. Big Maybe says:

    That I was forced to leave learning after a few years and go work is an endless source of anguish for me. There isn’t a day that goes by where I don’t ache silently, feeling I’m wasting my life. I argue to myself that logically I am doing the right thing, but it doesn’t stop the hurting. And this is almost 20 years now.

    A top-in-learning bochur looking for support should be given the benefit of the doubt. For him, leaving the Bais Medrash and joining the workforce is sentencing him to a life of bitter regret. I don’t know if this justifies the money quest — this requires consultation with a Gadol making a personal evaluation — but we need to understand it from his point of view.

  5. Robert Lebovits says:

    A bochur who wishes to devote years to Torah learning is to be admired, but he should clearly understand that such a decision comes with material sacrifice. We are each required to exert hishtadlus according to the path we have chosen. For one who has chosen the kollel path success means growth in learning and ruchneius. For one who has chosen the professional/occupational path his success is measurable in more worldly assets and accomplishments. Of course, each of them relies on Ezras Hashem to be successful, only they cannot expect to achieve the success of the other so long as they hold to their own path.

  6. tzippi says:

    Robert Lebovits said, “[M]any bochurim have not been taught the difference between an avreich and a balabos.”
    What do you mean by this? That bochurim should expect to rough it while in kolel and not be living the life of Reillystein? Because they need to be taught that “baalebatim” live with bitachon too, as well as that balabos (in the colloquial sense it’s being used) is not a dirty word.

  7. cvmay says:

    Mr. Oberstein,

    Most shadchanim have a data base of many young men, those who are learning, working, attending graduate programs or just chilling waiting to begin employment at dad’s or father in law’s business. The shomer shabbos young lady has people/family/neighbors/shadchanim to approach, supervised programs to attend, and networking with others. Hanging out at bars is totally not in her PICTURE.

  8. Robert Lebovits says:

    As I read R’JR’s essay, I was hoping he had more to say than “Don’t marry for money”. If this was the most corrupt element of the shidduch process, we would be in wonderful shape! In fact, there are far worse problems that have led to a near-epidemic of early divorces – not to mention the enormous number of broken engagements that have become almost commonplace.
    Few shadchanim recognize that the “perfect” young man/woman is in fact the “best fit” young man/woman as determined by the characteristics and qualities of the prospective match. Of course, in order to find this bashert one must have a real knowledge of the two young people. By that standard alone, a majority of shidduchim would be non-starters.
    When a shidduch is “red”, it is incumbent upon the parents to perform their due diligence in learning about a prospective candidate. Today every resume includes references and a list of individuals who are potential sources of information. Even so, garnering information that actually informs about the individual at hand is “Kosheh k’krias yam suf”! How often have we heard in response to a question about a young woman, “That’s a great question. Your son can ask her when they go out.” If the whole point of the process is not to evaluate compatibility in advance, then why bother at all?
    Most problematic of all: the rush to judgement. With all due respect to the Chasidische community – which actually does a much better job than the yeshivishe world – can we really abide by the phenomenon of a vort after 3 or 4 dates? When a bochur spends more time working on a tosfos than getting to know his future ezer k’negdoh, he has not gotten proper guidance from his mashpe’im.
    As others have noted, it is disingenuous to exclude the subject of financial support from the shidduch conversation when a young man’s objective is to continue his learning for a time before pursuing his life’s assignment. Unfortunately, many bochurim have not been taught the difference between an avreich and a balabos. The kollel life is not without hardship and struggle. That’s not a bad thing. The money factor can be minimized when realistic levels of parental and in-law assistance are established to maintain a reasonable lifestyle. Then let the kids figure the rest out for themselves.

  9. L. Oberstein says:

    In the yeshiva and chassidish world there is a system of shadchanim, usually women who make matches. Baltimore has its own agent in Lakewood who is paid out of tzedakah to find matches for local girls. Who is doing this for the less chareidi girls? How can a good girl who isn’t looking for Lakewood get fixed up? Is she on her own, having to hang out at bars or singles events , sharing a Friday night meal with 20 other singles. Could there be a real vaccum of shadchanim for middle of the road, shomer shabbos singles and what can be done about it?

  10. LazerA says:

    dovid landesman wrote:
    “Would R. Yonasan perhaps like a list of families with whom I am personally acquainted, whose daughters are in their late twenties and who haven’t been “red” a shidduch in years because their fathers do not have the 50% that is the minimum demand?”

    With all due respect, I truly doubt that your description of the situation is accurate. How many baalei teshuva have these young ladies agreed to go out with? How many working bachurim? How many bachurim with divorced parents? How many bachurim with “undesirable” relatives (including parents)? And so on.

    When I was in shidduchim, very few families were interested in me as a shidduch. I was learning full-time, had a good (but not perfect) reputation, was well-liked, and was committed to learning. I never expressed any interest in money whatsoever. I knew (and know today) many such bachurim (in and out of yeshiva). They are out there, fully available and ready to go out with any frum girl who is interested. And guess what, the same families that moan and groan about “the meat market”, turn their noses up at these fine bochurim because they aren’t good enough for them.

    Money is only an obstacle for shidduchim when you restrict yourself to boys who expect it.

  11. Shira Halperin says:

    Any girl who wants to marry a boy who wants her for her money – let her have him. And no, I don’t think those boys are princes that the peasant can’t afford to marry, I think those boys are morally deficient and wouldn’t want them. When you get married, there is much you don’t know: will this young man get cancer? Die young? Be happy? To marry for money is just pathetic, and I wouldn’t want any boy who would ask or marry for money.
    My husband was learning when we got married. I worked. We managed. No, our parents did not give us money. No, we did not take kollel checks or tuition breaks.
    Yes, if my parents had bought us an apartment he would still be learning and now he is working. But this too, is what the Ribbono Shel Olam wanted. If we get more money, he will go back to learning full time. There is no shame in supporting our family, giving charity, and learning Torah less than full-time.
    I don’t think you can blame the singles situation on the money thing, I know many older single women with money (not millions, granted, but plenty) and many modern single guys who are not looking for support…

  12. L. Oberstein says:

    It’s a mess. There are so many singles who would have been married in an earlier generation. The sociologists can explain all they want but the Jewish community is not reproducing its numbers because of a decline in marriage, postponment of marriage and an increase in divorce. There are so many good men and good women who should be married and something is very wrong with a culture that endorces long term singlehood. The problem in the yeshiva world is acute but it is more acute outside of that enclave. At least in the yeshiva world, the boys have a motivation to get married, and I will leave the rest to your recognition of what is going on out there.

  13. tzippi says:

    To Joe Hill: and didn’t girls remain unmarried because of this?

  14. Ori says:

    Joe Hill, did the customary amount of the dowry (in terms of how long it would take the parents to earn it) change with time? There’s a difference between saving for a couple of months for a dowry, and reversing the husband’s traditional promise to feed and clothe his wife.

  15. Bartley Kulp says:

    Just because Dowries are an old tradition does not mean that we have to keep it up. This is not in the geder of lo t’tush.

  16. Joe Hill says:

    A dowry from the girl to the chasan has been the time honored practice of Klal Yisroel in Shidduchim from time immemorial.

  17. ChanL says:

    Do you really believe that: “In Torah society, particularly in Israel, the size of one’s bank account confers little social status. Those who engage in conspicuous consumption are more likely to invite ridicule than admiration or even jealousy. Yet when it comes to shidduchim, we suddenly find ourselves discussing the financial status of complete strangers and having our own investigated, as if by Dun and Bradstreet.”

    Money confers no social status other than for Shiduchim??? Which yeshiva or organization does not kiss up to rich people regardless of their level of learning, frumkeit or even honesty. Or, better yet, which Rosh Yesiva or Rebbe that has to support a mosad does not “honor” and “glorify” wealthy Am Haratzim purely for their money? I would say that our leaders (read: Rebbes and Rosh Yeshivas and other Gedolim) will blindly honor people with money even though no respectable Yeshiva Bochur would be interested in being meshadech with those people. That is our shame!

  18. IsraeliMother says:

    From what I have seen, those people who are willing to just find the right boy/girl for their child and not to try to find someone who can give vast sums of money seem to find very suitable spouses for their children generally.

    On the other hand, those who are only willing to get the “best boy” have older single girls who just can’t find anyone because the financial demands are too high, and if/when they find these boys there is no guarantee of a happy marriage.

    On the contrary, I feel that boys who are told not to “settle” for less than a certain amount of money and who act upon this are not boys with the type of middot that I would want for any daughter of mine. And if it is the rosh yeshiva himself who urges boys to behave this way? Well, even yeshiva bachurim have free choice and can decide which shidduchim they are interested in pursuing — if he blindly follows anyone without thinking that says something about the boy as well.

    I have found very mati’im shidduchim for two of my children so far, one boy and one girl. We did not go into debt to marry either one off and I did not send my husband shnorring anywhere to pay for them either. You cannot guarantee the future and you cannot prevent your children from whatever Hashem has in store for them. Trying to extract huge sums of money in order to ensure anything is just a lack of bitachon. I am sorry that the writer feels that most people are not on this level that every simple Jew should be on.

  19. L. Oberstein says:

    May I relate a story told to me by an early talmid of Lakewood. Rav Aharon Kotler asked him to go out with the daughter of a Chassidic Rebbe who owned nursing homes.He told him that if he married the girl, he would receive a house , a car and lifetime support,this was fifty years ago. The talmid did not marry the girl but his friend did. Once he was in his friends house and couldn’t help but hear an argument in the kitchen.The wife said “if you don’t do what I say, I will call Tatty and tell him not to send the check.”.He married a poor girl and stayed in learning, the other one had a different fate.

  20. Tzurah says:

    I am a little pessimistic about how much things can change unless the default goal of the Yeshivishe bochurim changes. If the ideal is to learn full time while living Bnei Brak or Jerusalem, that ideal creates a certain financial reality that is absolutely impossible to ignore. Having the bochur not look at the money would require, as a precondition, that the bochur decide that he can live without learning full time and/or living in the center of the community. Therefore, any bochur whose learning has any potential will, initially, settle for nothing less than maximal support from the future in-laws. Insisting that the bochur maintain his current ideal while also insisting that he not care about the financed of the potential in-laws is completely untenable. How can he not care about money? Thinking that one can learn full time in BB without significant financial help from in-laws (or parents) is not bitachon, it’s foolishness. In that sense I don’t blame the Rosh Yeshivas for telling their best students to hold out for the best payout. It’s not unreasonable to suppose that the coarsening effect of such a shidduch situation on a promising bachur will be more than offset by his ability to keep on learning full time in the best possible communal environment.

    I think the only way, in the end, to fix the shidduch problem, especially in the Israeli Charedi velt, is to increase the supply of frum young men who have the capacity and the desire to support a family basically on their own (and I can only hope, even to find the idea of being supported by parents, in-laws and charity into full adulthood embarrassing). Even if a Chareidi girl is willing to not marry a full-time learner, the supply of good, solid, marriageable guys who aren’t planning to learn full time is non-existent. In America (and in the non-Chareidi world in Israel), the population of frum young men naturally diversify to include men across the learning spectrum, anywhere from full-time learners to dedicated professionals who still take some time to learn. The supply of “quality”, marriageable bochurim in the Chareidi world, however, is currently almost totally tied up in the full-time Kollel track. This is already starting to change in the Chareidi world, as more Charedi men enter the workforce, and the post-Holocaust “eis laasos” attitude of valuing full-time Torah study as the only worthy activity for a Jew is beginning to wind down. Hopefully, this process will happen fast enough so that the damage done in the form of widespread horse-trading shidduchs and a generation of unmarried Jewish women is kept to a minimum.

  21. Bob Miller says:

    When parents want to have the newlyweds subsidized to facilitate the husband’s participation in a kollel, how can money not be discussed? It many not be the main consideration, but isn’t it at least one?

  22. tzippi says:

    “But these examples reflect…a high level of bitachon…” On whose shoulders? The parents’? The kids’? We are doing our kids a grave disservice by not preparing them to be resourceful and independent. The bottom line is that there is a bottom line. As resourceful and possessed of histapkus b’muat we may be, one still has to pay for food, shelter, and clothing when necessary…and insurance, tuition, and much, much more.

    And bitachon is not just the purview of full-time learners. Everyone needs as high a level of bitachon as they can muster.

    And while it’s nice to promote not letting money be the first thing discussed, one has to face the elephant in the room. Case in point: parents tell a shadchan that they simply can’t help, much as they would love to. After kids go out five (!) times and start to talk about plans, it is apparent that the boy is expecting support. The shadchan explains, “You said you couldn’t support, but come on, every one helps.” As long as this is the climate we’re in, we can’t not bring it up if it means potential heartbreak, not unless one knows the other party pretty well.

    And I look forward to a full translation into American (beyond “parental help with the rent”).

  23. dovid landesman says:

    Rather the gedolim are saying that bochurim should not be treated as prizes to be sold to the highest bidder – an attitude that benefits neither the bochurim themselves nor the bayis ne’eman b’Yisroel that they hope to build nor the Torah to which they are dedicating their lives.

    I am not sure who qualifies as a gadol in R. Yonasan’s eyes, but the sad truth is that there are quite a few roshei yeshiva [I guess they are not gedolim]who are the primary cause of the marketing of bachurim to the highest bidder. As the father of four daughters, all of whom are baruch Hashem married, I can personally attest to conversations with yeshiva heads who convinced their talmidim not to settle for less than an apartment in either Bnei Brak or Yerushalayim because living outside these areas might detract from their ability to develop their potentials. Would R. Yonasan perhaps like a list of families with whom I am personally acquainted, whose daughters are in their late twenties and who haven’t been “red” a shidduch in years because their fathers do not have the 50% that is the minimum demand? Reportedly, R. Yisrael Salanter once asked where there is a gan eden large enough for Rav Shamshon Rafael Hirsch. I would paraphrase that and ask where is there a gehinnom large [or hot] enough for those responsible for turning shidduchim into a meat market. Frankly, I find it difficult to give money to the numerous people who knock at my door collecting for their children. I only give them money out of a sense of gratitude to the Ribbono shel olam that He has given me the ability to be a giver rather than a taker. The current situation is insane.
    So as not to be entirely negative, a ma’aseh rav. Years ago, the Klausenberger rebbe zt”l started a kollel in Netanya where the avreichim learned half a day and polished diamonds half a day. He was approached by a number of roshei yeshiva who accused him of being “poretz geder.” The rebbe replied: “I don’t understand what you want. in my kollel they learn half a day and work half a day. In your kollels they learn half a day and worry half a day.”

  24. joel rich says:

    I think R’JR spends a lot of time addressing the symptoms but not the root cause. Twenty-five years earlier Nochum too had been widely viewed as a future rosh yeshiva. But those were the days before people spoke of “money and support,” and after marriage, he found himself struggling to make ends meet, and barely able to keep his head upright when he has a few hours to learn Gemara at night. All he wants is to protect his son from the same fate. Viewing supporting and building a family and learning in every spare moment as a fate to be avoided speaks volumes, I always understood that to be the ratzon hashem for the vast majority, if not all, of us.

    KT

  25. Moshe says:

    Perhaps the problem lies in a system that encourges long term learning for virtualy every one and denies, to a less or greater degree, boys and in many cases girls, the education needs to allow them to earn a melacha kala venekiah in the modern world. If long term learning were only for the elite, the the community would be able to afford to support these worthy young men with out putting pressure on the families.

  26. dovid says:

    I’m in the YU/Hesder orbit, where shidduchim work MUCH diffrently. At least in my circle of friends (a.k.a. “chevra”), money was not a factor at all in shidduchim. We B’H’ my in-laws were able to give us a lot of assistance, but I didn’t even know that until after we got married.

  27. dr. bill says:

    Why is all this suprising? is this not representative of what the gemara cautions: one who does not teach his son a profession… Is money listed in traits to look for in a FIL? the former, not the latter I believe, is more commonly recorded by rishonim not just as (good) advice but also leHalakha!

    if we followed the halakha, we would have fewer cases with a need for advice on how to cope with such situations.