Saturday, May 10, 2008

Readers' Scoop: When Idealism Is Sheltered From Realism

(Cont'd from front page) Those individuals seek out other, second-best ways to serve the Eibishter with their lives. B”H, we are all able to start our married lives learning in Kollel. But when the realities of realism would hit, in the form of rent payments, tuition bills, etc., etc., every person would deal with them differently, in the manner that was dictated by their personality, and their level of devotion to Torah. Some would immediately leave learning to seek an income. Some would hold out longer, having decided to devote more Mesiras Nefesh. Some would try a combination…seeking income in the field of Klei Kodesh. Some would vow that no matter where realism led them, no matter how hard the path became, they would never leave learning…I will always live in a Yeshiva apartment, I will never go on vacation, I will make the simplest of Chasunos for my kids…etc. It was realism that brought each individual to a true “Cheshbon Hanefesh” , to decide how much Mesiras Nefesh he could tolerate, and at what point he would make the fateful decision of seeking a Parnassa in the outside world. The beauty of realism is that it is incremental. It doesn’t all hit at once, but rather slowly and gradually. One kid, them two. Playgroup tuition, then elementary school. Couples health insurance, then family. Rent payments for a one bedroom, then a three (or a mortgage!). Through these increments, our Mesiras Nefesh is constantly tested, causing us to constantly re-evaluate, and find our “breaking point”. In recent years, a dramatic change has occurred…one which has never been tried before, is virtually untested, and may be very dangerous. For whatever reasons…blame it on the Shidduch crisis, previous wealth, keeping up with the Joneses…etc., …we have removed, and are sheltering our children from, realism. We promise them 7-10 years after marriage, of full support. We rent them their first apartments, buy them their cars and houses, and take care of all their needs. We insist that they must stay in Yeshiva long-term, regardless of their temperament, or their ability to belong there. They spend their first 10 years of marriage, and their first 4-5 kids, never really facing reality, and never having to make any decisions because of it. They never have to decide if the Yeshiva lifestyle is one truly meant for their personality, or whether they can handle it. And we deprive them of the benefits of incrementally coming to that decision. We drop them from being supported, cold turkey, to fend for themselves...with large families, large expenses, and no income...without having given them access to enough reality to help them decide if they ever wanted to be in this position. It is the greatest disservice to our children, disguised as assistance. It is time we stop ignoring the hundreds who spend much of their day in the coffee rooms, hallways, and smoking areas of our Yeshivos. Not everyone was meant for long-term Kollel. And the ones that don't, would know it, if we allowed them to see it. We don’t have to stop preaching to our bochurim and girls “Nohr Torah”. We don’t have to tell any Yungerman when it is time to leave Yeshiva. We should just stop depriving them of the views, discomforts, and, yes, some hardships, that they need to experience in order to be able to make some very important decisions for their own lives.