Kollel Life vs. “Reality”

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  • #589398

    striving
    Member

    Hey.

    I’m a newcomer to this YWN Coffee Room world so I’m not sure if this topic has already been covered or even exhausted.

    I am also new to the shidduch scene and I’m a bit conflicted. It’s the clearest thing in the world to me that Torah is the way to go. I want a home of Torah and love of Hashem—in a real way. I come from a bit of a different background (movies, magazines, not such high ztnius standard) and that has made my desire for a real Torah life even stronger and more thought out…

    I went to a bais yaakov seminary and I was in an environment where I was able to really soar spiritually and I learned about the beauty and importance of Talmud Torah. I realized that I really want to marry a boy who’s learning. But what about money? I know that a kollel lifestyle has a lower standard of living materialistically but it’s still expensive. How can I expect my parents to support me indefinitely? They are both professionals and were already self-supporting by the time they got married.

    Should I give up my dreams of going into Social Work – which I feel would be spiritually fulfilling – to pursue a more lucrative career?

    My mom insists that I should encourage whoever I get engaged to to get a BTL (Bachelors in Talmudic Law) so that he can ultimately go for a Masters if the need arises… None of my high school friends (who I’m still very close with) are dating kollel-minded guys and they keep asking me, “Did you really think about this? Are you going to blindly jump into kollel life (in terms of money)?” I instist that it’s a thought out decision… but is it impractical – will I be forcing my parents to fork over money that they really can’t?

    I know I said a lot here but I was wondering if anyone has any advice that can shed some light onto my current state. Thanks! 🙂

    #638511

    oomis
    Participant

    Striving, the fact taht you bring up these questions already puts you ahead of the game, compared to other seminary girls who do not question anything, and believe, starry-eyed, that “G-d will provide.” (I guess they believe their father’s name is G-d. It does nto sound as if your parents are willing to support a kollel life for you. They both work hard, and truthfully, it’s time for them to sit back and relax a bit, and not have to worry about supporting yet another mouth and then potentially lots of little ones. You should pursue the career for which you feel will best serve your interests. There are no guarantees in life, and looking for a more “lucrative” career is not a done deal that you will find one. If you love Social Work, be a social worker. IMO, it is better for a frum girl to pursue a career that will give her the freedom to be with her children to raise them, when she needs to be.

    It is truly wonderful that you have made learning so choshuv to yourself, but qhy can’t you marry a boy who will learn half a day and work half a day, so that between you both, you are making enough of a parnassah to meet your expenses, without being too matriach on your parents, who did not expect this? As you can tell, I am not a big Kollel life fan. I think too many girls jump into the life without really understanding what they can expect. Often they have been ‘talked into” the idea that it is the only noble life for Jewish girl and boy. I do not believe this to be true, and there are many ways in which you can show your love of Torah and be machshiv it, without going the kollel route necessarily. If you do elect to do that, though, iw ish you hatzlacha rabba.

    #638512

    Joseph
    Participant

    striving, Kol Hakvod and Hatzlocho Rabbah. You have a true Yiddishe Neshomo.

    #638513

    Joseph
    Participant

    striving, Kol Hakvod and Hatzlocho Rabbah. You have a true Yiddishe Neshomo.

    #638514

    Curious
    Member

    striving – like oomis said, the fact that you thought about this puts you ahead of the game. Noone has a right to expect parents to support. If they volunteer that’s great, but no one can demand it or expect it.

    That said, it’s feasible to start off with a guy learning full time if you have a little bit of money saved up – summer, side jobs, post sem real job, etc. As the need arises, if your salary is not enough, your husband can also take on a side job, be it in chinuch or something else. Having a part time job will in no way take away his title of ben torah, if thats what in essence he is.

    About your profession – go for something that you enjoy and that is practical at the same time. Social work can provde a decent income. It’s not like you’re looking to go into a field that only provides minimal income. Ultimately, you want soemthing that you enjoy and that can be flexible enough when iy”H you’ll be raising a family.

    On another note, I spoke to a Rav before I went out with a working boy. He very strongly told me that because someone is learning, that does not automatically make him a true ben torah. There are so many truly admirable working guys who are constantly striving to do the right thing. They may be working due to finances or because they never found themselves able to sit and learn for a length of time. A person is not only what they do, but more importantly who they are…

    Hatzlacha!

    #638515

    Jothar
    Member

    Striving, congrats on a realistic outlook. Social work may be enough if the chosson’s side is willing to contribute. A few years of kollel life instead of lifetime kollel is also a good option, as it starts the family on the right footing. finally, some higher-paying jobs may not sync well with caring for children. Try to speak to an advisor or knowledgeable rabbi.

    #638516

    nossond
    Member

    First and foremost, you should look for a person who has the same chashivus for Torah as you do. This may or may not be someone who works. Secondly, because you are thought out, you have to look for someone who is thought out. Many young boys and girls don’t know what they are going to do. Because you have thought this through, go for someone who has a plan. If the plan makes sense to you, go for it. Don’t confuse dreams for plans. All boys will tell you their dreams, but few have real plans. Always remember, however, that the plans you make might not work out.

    #638517

    striving
    Member

    Thank you so much to everyone for your advice and feedback! It’s a frustrating thing that if you tell a shadchan that you want a boy who’s working part time, they’ll think you’re not serious about torah…

    #638518

    asdfghjkl
    Participant

    ames: ha ha ha ha!!! i saw that!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! maybe u should be the sweet choice shadchan yourself!!!!

    #638519

    Ames: ah who?????? ( 🙂 ) that’s what I’m looking for!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    #638520

    anon for this
    Participant

    striving,

    Jothar made a good point. Short-term kollel (a few years) may be possible even if long-term kollel is not. I supported my family financially while my husband learned in kollel for 2 years, b”h with no other financial help. I did have a well-paying job, but my sisters-in-law (who are really amazing women & true n’shei chayil) also supported my brothers while they were learning in kollel, for about the same amount of time, with less well-paying jobs.

    #638521

    asdfghjkl
    Participant

    ames: for sure free ice cream for you!!!

    #638522

    JayMatt19
    Participant

    OP, The CR is a nice place to start a conversation, but a Rov is the best source for advice on this nature. Hatzlacha

    #638523

    tzippi
    Member

    Anon for this, we live in interesting times. People are very cavalier in their discussions, of short term , long term kollel etc. when they don’t realize how much mesirus nefesh can go into ONE year of kollel, especially without parental help. (Not blasting you, just the narishkeit I hear.)

    Striving, do what’s best for you. Make sure you keep in contact with a mentor. Your parents do and will have your best interests at heart, I’m sure, and hopefully your mentor will too, as well as have a handle on what you want and what’s out there. Hatzlacha!

    #638525

    striving
    Member

    “I keep looking at the title of this thread and it’s really bothering me.”

    ames- I put the word reality in quotes because of the classic parent line: “You aren’t being realistic.”

    I totally agree with what your teacher said– that I can’t feel like I’m being a martyr in supporting my husband- I should be proud of it and not feel like I’m missing out! My point wasn’t: “How am I going to have enough money to have a husband learning and still afford all of the luxuries that today’s society has convinced us are necessities?” it was more like “How am I going to support a husband in learning and not end up on welfare and foodstamps?” See the difference?

    #638526

    anon for this
    Participant

    tzippi,

    I know that it’s not easy to learn in kollel even for a year or two with no financial support from family members. I wasn’t trying to minimize the effort involved, just to point out that it’s possible to do it even when long-term kollel is not an option. Certainly it can mean a lot of mesiras nefesh.

    For me personally, supporting my husband & baby through 2 years of kollel was a lot easier than supporting my k”ah growing family while my husband finished his schooling, & had even less time to spend with us.

    #638527

    akcc
    Participant

    striving: have no fear and do what you feel is right in your heart. Its nice that you are considering your parents that they shouldn’t shell out money they don’t have. most girls think the boy will sit and learn for a few years and they will be supported by their parents. they don’t think before they get married. you are looking at the situation in the right way.

    #638528

    areivimzehlazeh
    Participant

    I don’t know if this post got lost along the way (I had to log out and back in)

    Agree with all, plus:

    striving: I admire your well thought out position and hope you find the right one quickly and easily

    #638529

    shindy
    Member

    When we were first married, my husband learned full time and I worked to support us. We did not get any financial support from parents, we lived in a cheap basement apartment and bought used furniture, and we were very happy. It’s a beautiful life and I say go for it if you are able. Not easy when the children come along, but still very worth it if you have the stamina.

    #638530

    SJSinNYC
    Member

    Striving, first of all congratulations on being responsible and thinking about your future. No matter what you choose in the end, having thought out the situation (to the best of your ability) will give you a basic plan to live by.

    Did you talk to your parents in terms of monetary support? It doesnt have to be an all or nothing thing. They might be willing to help with something every month (like groceries or rent) or even just allowing you to go on a family cell phone plan that makes it cheaper for you (myhusband and I do this with my mother – we barely use our phones so she added us to her plan which hasplenty of minutes. Its costs us $20/month instead of $100). Also, they may have furniture thats not needed that you can use in your first apartment (yes, my husband used a pink formica dresser when we first got married).

    If your parents don’t want to support you (and I respect that choice also), think about how you are going to finish up through school. No matter what career you choose, it generaly takes at least 2 years to finish (such as nursing). Maybe it makes more sense to wait 2 years before getting married? At that point you might be able to fully support yourself.

    Also, think about where you want to live.Figure out approximately how much the cost of living is there and see if you can get a job to cover that. If you cant, it means some support (parents, inlaws, government) is needed and perhaps you should reconsider.

    One more option: Are you willing to forgo a wedding? Your parents and inlaws may be willing togive you the money they set aside for the wedding. That would at least give you a chunk of savings that could supplement your monthly income.

    Just know – if people think you arent serious about Torah if you ask for a boy who is working part time, then they obviously wont understand who you are looking for. Its an unfortunate stigma for a guy nowadays who actually wants to help support his family :-/

    #638531

    oomis
    Participant

    “It’s a frustrating thing that if you tell a shadchan that you want a boy who’s working part time, they’ll think you’re not serious about torah…”

    That is not only frustrating, it is very sad. Im ein kemach, ein Torah. Zevulun gets sachar alongside of Yissachar. And it is a man’s obligation is to support his wife and family, not vice versa. If that means working part of the day (even if all he wants to do is learn in kollel all day), then so be it, because Hashem obligates HIM, not her, to support them both. The idea of the Kollel wife is a noble one. It is not always feasible, and many young girls have learned to their dismay that women CANNOT have it all, without something very crucial (the kids, her sanity) falling through the cracks along the way.

    I think that some girls who constantly assert they are “so happy” are afraid to admit the truth that it is all too overwhelming for them, especially after they have had their fifth child in four years. It is hard to admit one is burnt out when you feel that you have no right to feel that way. But I have seen three young women get divorced this year, or separated, because the metzius was not what they had fantasized from years of yeshivah conditioning.

    #638532

    qwertyuiop
    Member

    striving: i wish you hatzlachah, in whatever you do.$

    #638533

    gavra_at_work
    Participant

    striving:

    You seem to have a street-smart head on your shoulders. Yasher Koach for thinking!

    Your question is a matter of priorities, and you have to decide the derech you want to take (as everyone has said).

    What I would like to add is that a degree that pays enough to survive Tuition in the current matzav will probably require a masters (there are some minor exceptions, none easy), meaning 5-6 years of schooling before you even start working up the ladder. Please take this into account whatever your decision turns out to be.

    #638534

    akcc
    Participant

    oomis:

    Took the words right out of my mouth. Thank you

    #638535

    asdfghjkl
    Participant

    striving: hatzlacha rabbah!!!

    #638536

    oomis
    Participant

    You’re welcome, akcc. I wish I didn’t feel that way, but I have seen the reality hit some girls between the eyes, and it is not easy to watch.

    #638537

    veyatziv
    Member

    Dear Striving,

    It’s great to see someone striving to grow and go higher.

    I am married for ten years to a learning man and I hope he still learns for many more.(He did start working recently but very part time.) Yes, for the first couple of years we were supported partially but that has stopped a long time ago. Every day I hope and pray that my husband should continue to find the sweetnes in the torah and be able to continue learning. I have so much to say but I won’t bore everyone….

    1. None of us should ever feel entitled to support. I was always appreciative for what I received and never took it for granted.

    2. You do have to be ready to live according to your means. I often didn’t buy new shoes until my old ones were really worn. Yogurt was a big luxury etc.

    3. Try to figure out how much you need to live and how much money you will earn. Obviously you don’t know exactly, but figure out around how much rent etc. will cost….If it matches aproximately then you have your anwer.

    4. When someone buys a house they often wonder how they will pay their mortgage. You can make all sorts of calculations how you will have the money etc. Then you buy the house. sometimes unexpected expenses crop up etc. Once you bought the house you will somehow find the money to pay because you are committed. You will use all your resources, get another job, fulfill potential that you didn’t even know existed. It’s the same with a Torah life. If you commit yourself, hashem will help you work harder then you thought you could and give you koach you didn’t know existed.

    It’s not easy but the sense of fulfillment is so great. You sound like you can do it!

    One more point, maybe be honest with the shadchan and say that you want a ben torah but are open to a part time learner who is a ben torah.

    Good Luck!

    #638538

    striving
    Member

    veyatziv:

    Thank you so much for your beautifully thought-out, informative answer!

    I’d love to be where you are in 10 years! 😉

    #638539

    veyatziv
    Member

    You are very welcome. If you have any specific questions I would love to help you in any way.s

    Perhaps it wasn’t fair of me, but I failed to mention that I grew up in a Torah home where every purchase was carefully planed or not made. (even when it seemed necessary to others) No, none of us felt deprived b”h. I discuss this with my siblings sometimes. Also, I am very, very stingy by nature and am very carefull with every penny.

    I will tell you though that my mother whose other siblings are all two -income families (husband and wife working) is the most successfull in her family b’gashmius and b’ruchnius. She owns a house with income, married off many kids without chovos.

    You need siyatta dishmaya most of all.

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