How to convince 18 year old that getting a job is as important as learning…

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    I am close with an 18 year old. He grew up sephardi traditional home, shomer shabbat. As he has grown, while his brothers have gone the typical college route, he became more and more religious and became attached to a particular yeshivah. He’s a really, really smart and intellectual kid. He has been telling me that he wants to find a wife now and marry; When I ask about parnassa, he tells me about his side business in electronic sales, and that he is sure he will be able to make ends meet because he feels he has some great, innovative ideas that will always keep him ahead in the industry. In the meantime, though, he has turned down a good job offer, because, in his words, “Torah is the priority”.

    We have all seen this phenomenon. The impressionable young man, mystified and entranced by their newfound learning and spirituality, doing as teens do…naively underestimating the demands of life, both financial and otherwise, and simply not imagining (in their teenage inexperience) that their well-laid plans simply may not stand up to the vicissitudes of economics, family and reality.

    I love him, and admire his dedication, but I struggle to find a way to explain to him all this…to explain that what seems like “good” money at 18 will be grossly insufficient to raise a family in New York, that his great plans, despite how inconceivable it may seem, can be smashed to pieces with the slightest change in technology, economics, foreign labor and geopolitics, and that in this day and age, he needs to think of exactly what he CAN’T imagine ever happening, as a distinct possibility. I want him to get a degree, something which is well within his power. I want to explain that a life of kollel wages or eking out a living teaching in Yeshivah is terribly difficult and more stressful than he can imagine, that the financial demands of supporting a wife and kids, (not to mention the emotional load that he certainly at this stage cannot conceive of), is not going to be realistically met, and certainly not at 18 or 19 years of age. His parents are not wealthy, and his community (sephardic traditional working class) is not one that supports this sort of lifestyle.

    He is a brilliant kid, and perhaps he could be a great future spiritual leader; but having a degree or a marketable certificate is more than justified in our day and age, and in his young and impressionable naivete’, he cannot see all the realistic obstacles and wrenches that life tends to throw. How do I explain this to him? How can I convince him that a parnossah, in 2014 New York, is just as crucial to his survival and future Torah indulgence than the equivalent measure of current yeshivah time?


    When I ask about parnassa, he tells me about his side business in electronic sales, and that he is sure he will be able to make ends meet because he feels he has some great, innovative ideas that will always keep him ahead in the industry.

    Yea right, one thing I have learned in 20 years in high tech is that good ideas are worth nothing if you don’t have the skills to pull them off (skills that take work to build) I spent most of 2013 working at a startup founded by 2 very experienced founders that ended up closing the doors after about 10 months.

    Honestly I don’t think you can convince this kid of much of anything, 18 year olds are generally known for thinking they know far more than they really do.


    Children that age (though they don’t believe they are children) tend to be very hard to motivate – in all cultures. Bluntly, being a grown-up means being burdened with having to support a family and means having to give up control over what you do in order to do what is best for the family. It’s no surprise that most 18 year olds are not overly anxious to give up childhood. Be happy that for your child, being a child means learning in yeshiva – what the “competition” does in a similar situation is largely undiscussable on YWN. Sooner or later he’ll have to become a responsible adult and support a family- and most 18 year old think “sooner or later” is postponable. In all truth, how many of us were anxious to become hard working, nose to grindstone, members of the economy at 18?


    The whole assumption of the title: “How to convince 18 year old that getting a job is as important as learning…” is incorrect. Getting a job may be important, but learning Torah is the most essential component to living a Torah life. At his young age of 18 years old it’s gevaldik to have the type of attitude he has considering his background. Once he matures a bit more, you can tell him the importance of getting a degree, but right now he’s at the age in which growing in learning is so significant.


    Next up: How to convince an adult not to rob an 18 year old boy of the opportunity to make the right choice.


    Let him learn for a few years. The only mistake would be getting married and being financially incompetent at that time. If he can afford to learn for a few years, let him learn. When he’s ready to get married, he has to do what is necessary to earn a living (whether that be college, have a job lined up through connections, etc.). The important thing is being able to make ends meet. Once that is met (and it’s very easy for most 18-year-olds) he should learn as long as he can afford it.


    LAB: RIGHT ON!!!

    Why would an anti-Yeshiva ideology be promoted, advanced on a site call “Yeshiva World”?!

    For all who care to know, there is a Great Provider up there, taking care of us IN SPITE of our overindulgence in the required hishtadlus. He’s known to provide in the most interesting ways. ?? ????? ?? ???? ??? ?????, there is an effort one must make to acquire a livelihood, more than that, to push and endlessly pursue is bound to fail.

    Besides, someone making a livelihood is just that, to enable one to live. To make that one’s life purpose? Isn’t that just outright silly? He lives to work, works to live (if that’s called living). What was that wasted life for.

    Kindly let that ideal bochur develop into his very best, without any kind “interference”. HaShem can surely care for him.


    There are many boys out there, some want to learn full time, and others get a job but go to shiurim. It really depends on the boy’s character. If he wants to learn, let him.


    I hope no one minds me quoting the classic title How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie. Next, how to convince a 18 year old that he is too young for marriage.


    Actually, Torah is more important. It is also important to have an adequate parnasa to pay the bills, including home necessities and tuitions. This guy actually seems to have it together, and I’d say to let him and his future wife decide how they will work things out with each other. There’s very little that’s really secure these days. He could land a job only to be fired in a year or two due to new management, etc. Ultimately, as pointed out in other entries, parnasa is decided by Hashem. We need to determine in our own individual cases what our appropriate Hishtadlus is.

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