Out Of The Mailbag – To YW Editor (From Chasunah To Foreclosure)


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yw logo12.jpgDear Editor, My neighbor, Simcha, married off his daughter about six months ago. I went to the Chasuna which was in one of the wedding halls in the neighborhood. The ballroom was set up for the hundreds of guests. Simcha’s daughters looked beautiful in their stunning gowns, the food was excellent and the music was very leibidig. Another beautiful Jewish Wedding.

I sat down as they served the chicken, and as I was about to taste the food, I looked at my friend Bentzi to my right. He also looked quite sick to his stomach. It wasn’t that Simcha owed each of us thousands of dollars with no way of paying it back. That wasn’t the problem at all.

The problem was that Simcha borrowed to pay the caterer, but he paid with his sholom bayis out of his pocket. The money for the beautiful clothing was not his, but the sleepless nights were his. The band was paid by someone else, but he paid with his own health. The guy who lent him for the photographer will never get paid back, but his children paid with suffering of their own.

Ladies and gentlemen, tomorrow his HOUSE is up for AUCTION since it has been in foreclosure for four months! (Every single detail in this story is true).

Are we totally out of our minds? Are we crazy? Why are we doing this to ourselves? Please tell me how we can fix this way of life that we are all being sucked into?

A disturbed reader.


  1. There’s a lot of talks behind the back, but no communication. A lot of writing, but no friendship and trust. People in a community should be close enoughe that when some one is under stress they could get together, discusse, be Mechazeik, and relieve him of the ‘need’ to do “crazy” things like that…
    Just an opinion…

  2. Forget about “the way of life we’re being sucked into.” Even a modest chasuna – package for 250, gemach gowns for all, and augmenting the generous shower (no or minimal support given) – could strain the resources of many. What is the solution?

  3. This is a very difficult cycle to break as there are always 2 parties involved and every party wants the best shidduch and wedding for their children.
    The only way this could work is if the youngsters are taught (sem/yeshiva)to forgo the luxuries by showing them that their future happiness will not be affected and that this way they will have healthy parents for many years to come who will still have some money left to help them.
    Mature kids will opt for simple weddings without frills and one-men keyboard bands which sound nearly as good as the real thing (In Yerushalayim this is very common and it sounds great).
    In Gateshead there is a strict rule that all weddings are the same and are catered by the community and whoever has attended will tell you that it is fantastic! The community has to be willing to buy into this concept by being shown the results (like you have done) of the other option.
    Yeshar Koach for bringing this up!

  4. Marriage is hopefully for a lifetime, a chasuna is just a few hours. One does not have to make a chasuna that will be the talk of the town in order for the young couple to be happy “ad meah ve’esrim”. I have been at very simple affairs that did not break the bank and everyone was happy. I didn’t hear anyone complain that it wasn’t fancy enough.

  5. rbsyid,

    There HAVE been weddings in Gateshead which were a bit swankier than the rest. But basically THERE this problem is minimal.

    There are other cities in Europe where you get package deals . For 6000 dollars you can have a beautiful Chasuna with limitations. However, its not
    an obligation for those who can allow themselves more,

    The problem is, how can Rabonim enfore these Takonos to the wealthy crowd and at the same time make appeals for thousands of dollars for tzedkah to these same Ashirim?

    The nicest solution would be for a Rich family to make a beautiful simcha for their daughter and at the same time marry off a poor Kallah. At least the mitzvah would overpower the contreversy and they wouldnt be criticized!

  6. The truth is that it is a big problem. I know someone who is making a Chasuna now – and feels they must make it in a nicer hall as the other side is Baal Habatish. That is insane – people should only do what they can afford. What really is crazy – is when it is a Bar Mitzvah – and there isn’t a second side – and they still go to town.

  7. It always irked me that individuals making stupid, foolish, personal financial decisions somehow translates into a community-wide, societal problem which inevitably causes much denigration of our Gedolim when they try to intervene and help. Rabbosai, K’Shot Atzmacha!! Don’t make others forced to help you. It’s very simple: Don’t spend more $$ than you make for ANYTHING you don’t essentially need to sustain you or your family. EVEN if others ARE doing it!!!!

  8. The fact that so many frum Jewish entrepreneurs, — caterers, seamstresses, musicians, tzatzkehmochers, et cetera, ad nauseum — have (A) a vested interest in continuing these royal coronation type affairs, and (B) few clientele outside of the frum community, does not help matters one bit.

  9. Firstly,people MUST learn to be responsible,not dependent.Don,t try to impress. When my parents got married,there was no money for fancy stuff. The relatives’ living room or the shul’s building was good enough. The shul had a caterer,the couple got married,and they brought up their families in an ehrliche way. The children had to go to school,Yeshiva with good secular studies. We learned a trade or profession,along with Torah. We learned responsibility and had to fend for ourselves. The new generation,starting about 20 years ago,decided no one has to work when getting married. The in-laws will support. The men get older and many have no clue what reality is. They go into business,but ,since they lack needed knowledge,they improvise,many times with illegal schemes. They buy a home they cannot afford,borrow from Reuvain to pay Shimon,.Tuition can’t be paid.food stores give credit but the ‘rich’ don’t pay. In my community.a grocer struggled for several years until he had to close up shop.The cars must be the best,one expensive black hat is not enough,a summer home is a must, My daughter had a chassunaah several years ago,it was very modest,and B>H>

  10. How sad. When we spend 20k to send our children to Yeshivas and seminaries, why won’t the children think that 30k isn’t do-able for a wedding?

    Forget the takanah-it has no teeth and exactly as someone above posted, if the rabbonim don’t abide by it, don’t expect anyone else to.

    We are engrossed in a culture that says we need to buy a chasson a 1500 dollar watch and a kallah a 3k ring, people demand X amount of dollars of support when they are more than able to get a job.
    How can we complain when we have made our children dependent on someone else instead of teaching them to be independent?

    Do we really think that when they see us pay 5k for summer camp or take another mortgage for a summer home we can’t afford, that they won’t expect to be given things just because they feel entitled?

    This will not stop until we understand as the Rambam says in Hilchos Talmud Torah perek gimel sif yud aleph-a peson needs to get a job, then a house, then a wife…we work in the total opposite direction and now our married children demand our support….do you really think this is what Hashem had in mind???

    This is bigger than large weddings-who will be there for the next generation who can’t support themselves because they were 5 years in kollel and had 4 kids by the time they left and now can’t take a entry level job because it doesn’t pay enough etc…then what?

    It is clearly up to our Rabbonim to lead by example and demand that we stop teaching our children to be life long dependents….ENOUGH!! JUST SAY NO-IT WON’T HURT!!!!

  11. this is an old problem. people are using money they dont have to make these lavish weddings for their children. it is very sad. everyone thinks they have to “keep up with the Jones’s”!! I feel bad for these people!!

    i had a similar instance when a supposed ‘acquaintance’ called me over a year ago telling me he need to borrow $X, JUST FOR A DAY (until another check someone paid him with clears)… he told me he needs to deposit the money within one hour before the bank closes..
    I thought, ok, I run a gemach, I can lend you the gemachs money for a day. Obviously there’s no time for a cosigners etc, ok its one day, ill take acrayus. FOOL WHAT I WAS!!!

    He gave me a check (which I found out later was a closed account) for the amount – told me to cash it in 2 days. Ok

    TO MAKE A VERY LONG AND AGONIZING STORY VERY SHORT, were one year later…. NOTHING!! (of course I had to repay the gemach from MY OWN MONEY), and it looks bleak to say it mildly!


    This guy bought a 1.5 million dollar house, goes up to the montains and rents an UPSCALE summer home for over $10k per summer (so far 2 summers since the loan)…
    HIS EXCUSE…. ‘shalom bayis’ – he claims his WIFE is a high maintenance, and NEEDS her fancy car, summer home, 1.5 million home and who knows what else I don’t know about. HE always EXCUSES his actions for not paying me back (and who knows who else got hoodwinked from him) is ‘what should I do…. My wife…..’
    I don’t know if its true or not, but if it is true, she will cause his demise amongst his ‘friends’ and will CHAS V’SHALOM be a ticking time bomb for a serious health risk, (sakonos nefshos) all to keep SHALOM BAYIS???!!!


    As the gemorah says “isha morah nafshey”

    Then again this could all be a ploy to make all his creditors believe him, and make them have rachmons on him while he steels from them to live a high lifestyle!! Who knows – one thing is for certain, I’m out BIG BUCKS (and I’m not even making ends meet)

  13. i am also at my wits end i have a bar mitzvah to make soon to me it suffice to spend no more then
    $7000 but my wife wants the whole 10 yards anything less will be an emberrasment to her family she wants to spend 3 to 4 times as much
    she tells me dont worry her family will put the rest of the $ , i dont understand we are stuggling any xtra $ can go into tuition or fix the house how do u change a persons priorities
    if its not one of the ten commendments??

  14. Sorry to say, There is nothing in the letter that reflects real excessiveness give or take a couple bucks. A chasuna can kill anybody in this day and age. Bli E”H with big mishpochos and even bigger Schar Limud bills, how many are capable of actually putting money away? By the way if the guy is in forclosure, I bet he’s borrowed for a few chasunas already. B”H simchos. But how much are those couples costing him per year……There is a lot involved here. Alot that won”t take a couple of takonos to solve

  15. How do we change one’s priorities? By training children from when they are young, that they do not NEED every new nosh and every new toy, and every teenager doesn’t NEED an IPOD and expensive digital camera, and every chosson doesnt NEED a new lexus to drive while learning in Kollel, and every kallah doesnt need the most expensive jewelry and the fanciest clothes. We are AFRAID of intimidating our little kids, and are AFRAID of antagonizing our teenagers, so we go along with all their requests (which after a while become DEMANDS). We parents ARE TO BLAME.
    We have to set an example by the way we live. How many times my kids complained that we have an old car. That the house is not decorated enough. And my reply is always ” I can easily afford a fancier car, a newer model, but my money goes into my children’s yeshivas (where I do not bargain)and I am polishing my diamonds (my children)”. I do not take vacations, and do not go away for the summer. And when my child got married, she got all the essentials, but no luxuries. And yes, the bit that we saved, we’ve been giving the kollel couple, and hope to continue.

  16. I know people who don’t go to the mountains or any where else on vacation, believe it or not. And their children have simple chasunas and get used furniture when they set up their new homes. They don’t mind putting hand me downs on their children and self catering their smaller simchos (other than a chasuna).Their children don’t go to sleep away camp in the summer etc. etc. And they are happy!

  17. I was shocked as I scrolled through the above comments. Why do people feel this need to spend?
    I can understand the need to keep up with the Joneses if you are supposedly well off, but the people who are in chinuch, or kollel, obviously do not have the extra money to spend, and we all know that!!!
    My inlaws are making a chasunah in a few weeks they immediately decided on the cheaper hall. (spend the extra $7000, in support!)
    As far as all of the negativity on the Rabbonim, it is easy to lay blame, but the Rabbonim should not have to decide how much money you should spend on each part of the wedding. People have to use their heads!
    Point to think about, Do you ever see the Roshei Yeshiva driving new cars? (Lexus or even a new Camri!?) Why is it not mentined to follow the R.Y. in maintaining lower standards of houses and cars?
    Don’t lay blame!
    Pick up your pen, sit down with your wife and plan a budget!

  18. There was a very interesting article in the Yated a few months ago about Takkanos for simchos. The gist of the article was that we only need takkonos in an imperfect world. Ideally we should all have enough self control and seichel to spend within our means and not have to copy the Jones (or Cohns).

    I hope this all begins to change, because for those of us in our twenties and thirties, the cost of tuition and housing is so high that I hope that we all have enough brains to spend within our means when we begin making chasunas.

  19. I, for one, can’t understand why some of us feel a need to “live up” to others’ standards. You gotta do only what you could realistically do without borrowing! Most of the girls in my class got married in the Atrium, but I told my parents that BY of Monsey works just fine and so does a one-man band and the simplest menu (maybe the meager menu was the reason for the very leibedig dancing- no one was “stuffed!”) Sure, I knew very well how to convince my parents that I “need” a chasunah at the Atrium “just like everyone else,” and my nice parents would have shelled out the extra thousands, and then none of the guests would have been “beleidished(?)” by receiving only an invitation to the chupah (“but I invited THEM to MY whole chasunah, and I don’t have more money than THEY do!”); however, I’m the oldest of more than several children b”ah, and my wedding would “set the tone”- what if my parents would not be able to make this type of wedding many times over (without going into debt)? BTW, my parents lost count of how many compliments they got on the beauty of the atmosphere at their truly Yiddishe simcha, but the number neared the total # of guests, and I’m sure my marriage was only impacted positively by its humble commencement.

  20. The takonos have an exclusion: “extenuating circumstances.” This basically renders the whole thing a joke. For successful implementation of the takonos, have a few people who can afford to make weddings in the Sheraton Meadowlands, make their wedding in VaYoel Moshe, or the like. This will eliminate the whole ‘keeping up with the Jones’ issue.

  21. its your lifestyle that he is trying to live up to!
    while i dont justify simcha at all, aren’t we all guilty of raising the level beyond our friends & family?

    you could’ve avoided this by making a low key chasuna that simcha would have been able to “keep up with the jones” as well as your 2 leased fancy cars, your sukkos trip to israel, & pesach in italy,& your summer vacations, & 3 homes etc.

  22. I here reading all these serious posts feeling bad for frumblogger and then “namless” interjects with badchunes in chodesh elul…i almost fell off my chair from laughter

  23. Sabra,
    your attitude is nasty. Who says the writer of this letter lives the lifestyle you are describing?
    And it is high time to stop blaming everyone else for our faults. We, who are mature adults, are responsible for our own actions, no MATTER what the neighbors do or say.
    In this case, Simcha himself, is responsible for living the lifestyle he is living and he and his family will unfortunately suffer the consequences.
    What irks me most, is the tzedaka campaign that will follow to bail him out of the foreclosure.

    Someone approached me for tzedaka (and for the record, I give way more than my 10% maaser, and I LOVE to give) for a couple making a wedding, in one of the fanciest halls in Williamsburg, the clothing the family rented and purchased is of the most exclusive, the sheilech and linens are of the best – most expensive brands, basically the couple is marrying off their child on the highest caliber, and friends are actually collecting for this simcha. My response: “you are exploiting the concept of tzedaka, I dont think you have any right to ask anyone to contribute to this”. Others will argue, tzedaka has to be given on the level the person is on financially, I say, if we stop supporting this nonsense, they will have no choice but to come down to earth and live within their means.

  24. We are paying out all of our earned wealth – there will not be enough riches to cover the next Dor even minimally!

    I am with #7 (and others)to break the cycle of expectations and pampering by the families and their spoiling parents and grandparents. It has and will continue to spiral out of control. I know parents essentially paying out their estates to their kids-keeping the money in liquid cash for $100K plus annual budgets-to the determent of both. And those kids have no parnasa nor invetsment savings to take care of their kids.

  25. As someone involved in fund raising for day-schools, here’s my dire predication.

    The SYSTEM WILL COLLAPSE on itself in 15-20 years max.

    The problem is that as stated above our priorities are out of order. Day schools need the support of Grandparents who traditionally had the free resources to contribute. Those resources are now going to the chasunahs, the non-working kids and/or the newly married who MUST have a home and all the fineries on Day 1. When the school system suffers Yidishkeit in this country will suffer.

    Worse yet imagine the PERMANENT endowments we could create if everyone just skipped the Peasach retreat(or some other “necessary” luxury) for only one year. It’s estimated to be a $1BILLION industry.


    Do the math. That money would almost ensure a low-cost or free day school education to every kid in this country FOREVER. But the money is just not prioritized. We’re digging a big hole people.

  26. dearest newcomer

    what is nasty, is to have such tough skin & say, i do my share & let simchas family suffer etc…
    unless we all drop the level one notch at a time, we will see many more such stories,
    i dont mean only these luxuries, I see excessive spending on all levels from “want to be’s”
    i see people (that i know don’t have the $) in food establishments spending $40-$50 on a pizza & ice cream supper for a small family.
    people have to buy thier kids $100 pair of shoes etc
    why, because they dont want to be the NEB.
    if those that could afford it would make it a point to lower the standards from brown bag lunches to chasunas & obviously in between, we can help one yid at a time.
    & if you cant help financially, at least feel bad for them.
    btw, if one once had the means to make a fancy wedding & now doesnt,, u are obligated to collect for him for a fancy wedding of his stature ” even a horse to ride on” meaning even a luxury item. ask your local rabbi.

  27. P.S. to 24: and they are still broke.
    There are two parallel worlds commenting here. (Parallel as in, they may go on forever and never meet.)

  28. As a son of a very wealthy family, I with my kalla decided to make our chasuna at Bais Yakov Monsey close to 20 years ago. When a friend – a Yasom – remarked to me how come I’m being so cheap in making it there, I just smiled. When he left, I told the other bochurim “So that one day when he makes a chasuna, he wont be embarrassed. I was quite content in that the BY shoudh make a few thousand dollars rather some Mafia guy. Coming from out of town, the situation over there is much better as a whole than here in the tri-state area. People are not as “hung up” as people here. (I know it’s hard for in towners to understand since they haven’t been there….) There is not nearly the competition as exists here. I see no hope in the future as ValleyYid suggests……We have become spoiled rotten and have become a very shallow nation rachmana litzlan….May Hshm help us….

  29. newcomer- I don’t like what you wrote about this Simcha being responsible for living this lifestyle. His daughters, probably teenagers, would be mortified if they did not have nice gowns at their sister’s chasunah. As some already indicated, the author did not mention that this was an elaborate affair, sounds like it was just the norm. Should he have used a local shul for the occasion? Remember, “Yehei adam me’urav im hab’riyos.” Yes, cutting down on many of the frills (gowns, etc.) will reduce the cost, but the “norm” times a couple of weddings, added on to the day-to-day living expenses of a family with an average American income and more children than the average American household can easily push one into major debt. Thus, Hashem deals with Klal Yisroel lmaalah min hateva- if we prioritize correctly.

  30. Maybe this is the only way he was able to get a good boy for his daughter? That he should promise “who knows what”. Shidduchim is a real challenge and he might’ve not had a choice. Poor guy.

  31. What is the difference in price between an average wedding and a fancy wedding these days? I can tell you firsthand- not much- less than $10,000!!!

    Also, what’s backbreaking is the Kollel support for years, not the wedding. A wedding is a one time deal, and the years of support go on and on, if you want a quality Shidduch these days.

  32. Everybody is talking about the next generation. How is a guy in his high 50’s, who’s paid his tuition ,married off his kids going to retire. Will his employer keep him when he is physically unable to work?

  33. נוצר תאנה יאכל פריה
    Shlomo Hamelech’s advice: One who plants the fig tree will get to eat the fruit.

    If you invest $150 a month from when a child is born until age 20 in a good growth stock mutual fund, you will have contributed a total of $36,000 – but your fund will be worth $150,000! That would be enough to cover the wedding, and be able to support the couple nicely for a few years, PLUS a nice down payment on a house.
    By the way – the $36,000 contribution is less than the cost of the actual wedding.

  34. I think #39 has the key to the problem. I wouldn’t define a “quality shidduch” for my daughters as someone who is willing to live off the sweat of his wife or in-law’s labor, watch his kids go into day care at a young age, and sleep at night with his $3K watch when he knows that there are yidden going to bed without dinner and wondering if they will have meat for Yontif…

    I’m not raising my girls to expect a top-drawer chasunah or years of support, but I think I am raising them to have real shalom bayis, being b’simcha with what they have and making the most of the gifts HaShem sees fit to put in their hands, and valuing good middos over nahrishkeit like fancy this and expensive that.

  35. Hey kler

    From where do I take $150 extra a month, and if I have 6-8 kids from where do I take $1200 extra a month to invest? I am working full time and living in a simple house, drive old cars, do not take vacations, do not go to the country, my kids do not go to camp, and can barely pay for food, clothing (last time I got a new suit was for my Chasuna 13 years ago) housing, and tuition.

  36. #41
    quite frankly I have 5 children and I don’t have $650 a month extra to put away, I am paying over $700 a month in tuition and rent and food and life insurance. There are many families who are struggling to cover their basic expenses.

    My old minivan just had to be replaced. As I was looking around what the “oilam” is driving,I was astounded and dismayed to see that most cars are high end minivans. Why does a torahdigge family need to drive a Town & Country. What is wrong with a Grand Caravan?

    Why are people leasing instead of buying. The math doesn’t make sense. If you lease you pay a certain amount for ever. If you finance appropriately you pay for 3-5 years and then you own the car free for the next few years until it dies. Those who claim they spend less on maintenance with a leased car are short sighted. Ask any financial advisor. The only reason that leasing makes sense is if you want a new car every 2 years. Goodbye $300-$400 a month forever.

    Just one more example of the redifas hata’avos of many in our communities these days.



  38. someone in BP – “I am paying over $700 a month in tuition and rent and food and life insurance” – sounds like a great deal to me, tell me where to sign up!

  39. #37, You cannot BEGIN the chinuch when your kids are teenagers. When they are young they should be taught, “No, you cannot have that just because so & so has it”, so that when they are teenagers it is engrained in them that there are certain things we can afford and things we cannot afford. In the original letter we read about “hundreds of guests”, when I made a wedding, I had the minumum that the hall required, and at one of the least expensive halls. And we have a huge family. Friends and acquaintances were more than glad to attend Simchas Chosson V’Kallah. Only close family was invited for the meal. We did not offer a choice of meat. If one WANTS to cut corners, there are ways to do so. And B”H we got many reports about the simcha’dige, beautiful atmosphere at our wedding.
    I do realize the issue with the Jones’s, but it’s the average person who has to make the changes and feel confident with their lifestyle. We cannot expect someone who wants an “El Caribe” wedding to make it in “Ateres Shlomo”, that won’t happen. But for me to make a simple wedding on a simple standard to be happy with it, that is the kuntz.
    Regarding teenagers wedding attire, I agree that IS a real problem, and I have no solutions.

  40. to #45, Jews DO belong in Eretz Yisroel and may we all be zoche to be there B’korov, but I dont think the matzav there, with the stipulation to buy the young couples apartments, is any better than here. Why do people constantly come to America to collect? Perhaps the cost of the actual chasunah is cheaper, but clothes are expensive there too, and the girls there are pretty well dressed!!

  41. Depending on where you’re from, the gowns don’t need to be a major expense. Not all gemachs charge, there are inexpensive cleaners, and most won’t require major alterations. Sisters’ gowns can be had for under 100 dollars a person.

    There are fundamental flaws in our lifestyle system, and some of them come from the best parts of us, like the desire to support a future generation of bnei Torah. Is this the best forum to discuss it, though?

  42. To #18,, I have borrowed money for short periods of time from a cousin who is better off. He always asks for a post dated check. It is criminal to pass a bounced check and you can go to court to collect. As far as savings, I have been going without health insurance to afford Yeshiva tuition. I managed to borrow money to fund my IRA, otherwise my tax bill would have been $4000 higher. Everything is expensive. It is one thing to borrow money for a few months for a Simchah when you see where the money is going to come from, BUT NO ONE SHOULD EVER BORROW MONEY IF HE DOES NOT KNOW HOW IT WILL BE REPAID.
    One thing that I did for my son’s bar Mitzvah is that I used some of the gift money to pay the caterer. That could be done for the Chasunah as well. Parents can offer a bare bones affair. If the Chosson Kallah want more, they can pay for it. Of course in this day and age, where it is ossur for the chosson to work, the chassonah money is all they have to live on, but that is a different rant

  43. #27: Bravo for your decision. What a refreshing and mature choice. Your attitude and discretion speaks well of your parents, and your family should G-d willing enjoy your good counsel ad meaih v’esrim shonoh.

  44. Dear kler and others,

    Even for all those of you that do have $150 per month per kid to “invest.” Perhaps kler is the financial advisor, who knows which “growth stock mutual fund” will give you a guaranteed 12% yearly return (yes that is how much growth you have to have in kler’s example) for 20 years. Having spent years in financial industry, I am hard-pressed to find you such a guaranteed boon.

    C’V’S I am not against saving and investing, but please, do NOT take away food from your table to put your money in questionable “investments” to pay off all your simchas I’Y’H.

    May we all make wise financial choices…


  46. To comment #44, I am an accountant and a financial advisor and I think you are pretty mistaken when it comes to cars. Sometimes buying is a better option and sometimes leasing is a better option. Those who have cash flow issues might be looking for temporary releif in monthly payments and not want to shell out alot of money up front. Plus, as someone who aalways owned my cars I can say, the peace of mind of not having to deal with a mechanic every other month is something that for some is worth a bit more money. Now, what kind of lease you get is another story, a honda vs a lexus, or a toyota vs an acura. This is something I can agree with you.

  47. You can’t afford not to invest for your children’s chassunas. 12% is easily obtainable – it is simply the average annual return of a quality growth stock mutual fund over the past 50 years! Do a search for “stock market historical return” and you’ll be shocked.
    And for all those that complain you can’t find an extra $150 a month to put away – how are you going to be able to pay $50k at one shot when the chassuna comes around?

  48. Being a BT, I left the world of materialism to become frum because I was so impressed with the idealism of serving Hashem, being part of a community, and living a frum life based on Torah and Mitzvos. Over the past 25 years I have seen such a decline in our ideals and in our behavior. Materialism has gotten out of hand, and everyone is running their lives based on what they have and what they don’t have.

    In the old days we were happy to send our kids to a good Yeshiva, to sit at our Shabbos tables filled with Divrei Torah and Nigunim. Our shuls were beautiful but not overly elaborate. Our yeshivas were functional. Our homes were respectable and balabatush. Something happened ….. the bubble burst and everyone went crazy! Our Shuls and Yeshivas became multi million dollar edifices…..our homes were not good enough, so we had to tear them down and rebuild the newest and finest, our houses went from HOMES to HOTELS. Our Simchas went from SIMCHA to EVENTS. The being comfortable and happy with one’s lot was thrown out the window. We became the kosher consumer and needed bigger better. There are no limits. We have lost our Jewish ideals to Madison Avenue Advertising! Just pick up a Jewish magazine and newspaper and see the ads, where to go on vacations, what clothing to buy, sheitel’s and jewelry. We are all so busy chasing after all these THINGS we lost perspective. Why are our children so unhappy, why are there so many divorces! This epidemic of materialism is not only causing financial disasters in our world, it is causing us to separate from what things are truly important in our world.

  49. Kler (#55),
    Boruch Hashem you seem to have never been in a matzav where you simply did not have $150 per child/per month above the basic cost of food, old cars, tuition etc. (and I hope you will never be). If you had, you would understand that those who said they could not afford it were not “complaining” as you put it, but simply stating a fact that the money just isn’t there no matter how wise it would be to invest it. You cannot invest something you don’t own.

    It’s kinda like health insurance. Nobody will tell you its a waste of money to buy it, and everyone will agree its a neccessary investment. And yet there are many people (one of them posted above) who just don’t have the money for it. Its not because they don’t see the importance of it, its just because the money just isn’t there.

    And BTW, I am not just talking about kollel yungeleit and rebbeim. Baruch Hashem I have a job, do not have any kids into shidduchim yet, live in a simple rented home, drive old cars, don’t go on vacations, and still making ends meet on a typical month is extremely difficult. Then when the expenses of yom tov, a car repair or back to school supplies/clothing comes along it becomes impossible. Shall I borrow money to invest 150 monthly per child??????

    Let’s all daven that every member of klal yisroel should be granted a year of parnassa be’harchava and be able to afford everything they need and more.

  50. My wedding was b”H in Israel, a year and a half ago. I believe the ENTIRE wedding, not just my parent’s side of it cost aproximately $10,000. This was less than my brother’s bar mitzvah cost in america a couple of years before this, and that took place in the gym of the local day school!

  51. Kler,
    An average return of 12% over last 50 years (even if it was true) is not a guarantee of future average 12% return over next 20 years. Sounds pretty kler to me!

  52. terrible, terrible problem
    i wish i knew the answer

    at my sons Chasunah, flowers in the thousands of dollars were ordered.
    at the last minute, something went amiss, the flowers never arrived

    neither the Kallah, nor her mother, nor the Chosons mother noticed.
    it did not diminish the Simcha one bit.

  53. I went to a wedding, it was small and a buffet, it was what the parents could afford and the really weird thing about was that at the end they said the same sheva brochos that are said at the big weddings! I had no idea~

  54. There is no simple solution, because, as it has already been pointed out, even a simple chasunah can be extremely draining financially. However, there is a very simple solution to reduce the costs of the chasunah drastically, and from what I understand, it is already done in certain areas. Basically, you invite people for the chupa and smorg which will continue after the chupa, while the chosson and kallah are in the yichud room and taking pictures. After, you have the first dance, and then everyone goes home except for relatives and the chosson and kallah’s friends. Instead of having 500 people at the seudah there are only about 100. Everyone gains, because it is much more cost-efficient, and guests don’t have to be out so late, and can spend more time with their families. If you think about it, many people fill up at the smorg anyway and many times they’ll leave before the main. All it takes is for a few families to do this untill it becomes the norm.

  55. Gedolim gezaros #3 cost many thousands of dollars also. Can tell you from the 3 weddings we paid for, and borrowed for, with no flowers, simple band and gemach gown…..

  56. Shmeal Eizekovitch can cater you a beautiful wedding for under 3K!!!! I’ve been to some of them; the food was as fresh and as tasty as it gets, and the simcha was as joyous as you’ll ever see! We have to get back to celebrating the simcha itself not the details.

  57. I’ve been to some lavish weddings, and yes, I did enjoy them – but a week later, we only remember the extremely rich or bad food in the other case.
    Personally, I’d rather that my simcha is remembered for the simcha.
    If a couple is old enough to be married, they should be treated like adults.
    When each of my two girls got married, we set a budget for a wedding at one of the less expensive halls in Brooklyn.
    After all of the basic expenses – the hall, invitations, flowers, photographer, music, dresses, and 200 or so guests, I let them know that at that point, additional guests would cost a lesser amount. If they chose to invite more of their friends, they could cover the expense from their wedding gifts. We even set up a joint checking account for myself and the bride for the wedding expenses.
    I did pay for some of their household goods on credit, but it was an amount that I could manage.
    The heartburn was minimal.
    A good time was had by all.
    And what we remember most was the simcha.
    It did help that their classmates from Far Rockaway and the Five Towns were a very assorted group as far as income and resources went.
    They were not the only ones to get married on a budget.
    While I would use some credit for a one-time, non recurring expense, there is no reason or excuse to put your finances and resources at risk.
    Again, a lavish wedding is remembered for a very short time. What we want to remember is the simcha.

  58. What is the real meaning and purpose of a wedding? To put parents in debt or (chas v’shalom) give them health problems? To put on a good show for the in-laws or your childrens’ or your own peers? Or is it to celebrate a joyous occasion? For everyone to be happier that day then just about any other in their lives? To bring the parents nachas and hope for future generations of lebedig simchas? Anyone who can’t get simcha from your wedding because it is a small affair, with a limited menu, a one man band, and takes place in your cousin’s backyard say, is not your real friend.

    For the most part I have seen very few frivilous simchas thrown by truely financially wealthy people. They have nothing to prove to anyone, and spending another $30,000 on the chassanah won’t even register on their radar, so why do it? Usually they are thrown by upper middle class who are barely have the means to do so, or people who never had them to begin with. Therefore, most people are not even keeping up with the real jones’.

    Personally I’d rather attend the wedding of a spiritually wealthy family any day.

    A side note — We are marrying off babies. If a kid has never paid a bill in his life and has no experience in the real world, he can’t be expected to live within his means. How many 20-year-olds go straight from their parents house to yeshivah to marriage. If we’re lucky they had a summer job at camp one year and paid for their own entertainment with their tips that summer. How can these children be expected to know what it means to pay a bill or what a sacrifice their parents are making when they agree to pay for an elaborate chassanah or living expenses for so many years? If you want to hold by “ben shemonah essrei l’chuppah,” you’d do your children a big favor to not raise them like spoiled American brats. Give them financial responsibilities young, and perhaps we need to be teaching some skills in the yeshivah years that will serve boys well for earning a living later down the line.

  59. I think it is unfair to place the blame on the person making the simcha.All he’s trying to do is be like the average “joe” on the street, who though he doesn’t need to be in the limelight of admiration he also would prefer not to suffer the indignation and the pity of his fellow brother.This fellow is probably not deficient in his code of ethics either.It is probable that in every other aspect of his life, he’s living within his financial means.This fellow is clearly a victim of society. A society that we, and those before us have created.A society that has raised the bar on the definition of making a simcha to the level wherein which the simcha is shared by those attending the simcha but not by the ones making it.The bar must be lowered. To ask a handfull of rich people to be the first in voluntarily lowering the bar , by making their own simcha below present day norms is not fair to them and their families. Besides, it possibly might not achieve the desired long term goal.Our only hope lies in the unanimous determination of the Rabbonim of our comunity to stand tall and strong and not to attend any simcha that exceeds a very specific bare bones menu.For example, some shul’s in Brooklyn, restrict any affair (bris, bar-mitzvah etc.) made on their premises to just cake and soda.No exception.The well known Chasuna takonas failed only because they allowed for exception in exceptional extenuating circumstances. You could drive a truck through that breach.The community must rise as one and pressure our Rabonim to take charge in this crisis.They’re always there to mend our ruchnias they must be there to mend our gashmias as well.

  60. Last week, I was invited to a lavish chasunah, in a fancy hotel. After the chupa champagne was served. The joke was that everyone had to stand in a lobby while the staff moved the chairs for the meal. The photographers(yes a few) took so many pics that the first dance was delayed, and the fancy main course was overcooked and noone ate it.

  61. When my son got married, my mechutan and I were committed to stick to the takonos. My son wanted 100 friends (which would put us over 400) so I wanted to serve them kugel and salads from the shmorg(we had a cold shmorg). He wanted them to get a full meal. I told him to ask a signator of the takonos and he said we could have more than 400. Figure this out.

  62. jdg,
    If you have been to very few frivolous weddings thrown by truely wealthy people then you must not have been to too many weddings in your life. I have never posted on yeshivaworld yet but that comment got to me. I have been to many weddings made by truely wealthy people (I’m talkinga about long time family money, not new found quick money). They were ALL outrageously done, each one trying to outdo the other. Crazy halls, crazy extra little shticks, crazy flowers, crazy things put out in the lobby when you walk in…crazy ideas for desserts, etc.

  63. What about an restauraunt wedding, a few hundred dollars .U wont owe anybody anything. The couple will have a much happier life knowing that their parents are not shortening their life because of a 6 hr simchah.

  64. To sum it up.

    The cost of daily living is pushing the majority of the olam over the edge. The simchas, B’H, are pushing most people further in that over-the-edge territory. Nobody will do takanos for you or for me. These decisions start at home. The short-term decision of impressing neighbors and being like everyone else (while your books are not solvent) vs the long-term decision of sleeping at night and living within your means — we, and only we, must make that decision.

    For those of you that are concerned that their kids will feel disadvantaged. It is clear from the above 75 comments that self-restraint can be only beneficial to chinuch, as that is the only way to teach your children to do the same in the future.

  65. Lets all move to Utah. live life like our fathers did, away from this lifestyle. (doesnt have to be Utah).

    Keep it simple.
    Live fora purpose, a goal. not for the pursuit of a fancy car or marble floors. Live in a community where everyone looks out for everyone, When its time for a simcha- everyone chips in and helps make the simcha. Not by hiring a caterer but everyone volunteering to make a part of the simcha together.

    Sounds like utopia, so why does everyone think its crazy ?

    Who says we have to move anywhere to achieve this level of achdus ?

  66. Cheskib2: As a Midwesterner, I can say there are several communities out here that fit the bill! You’re all welcome to join us at any time!

    Just leave the:”ALL outrageously done, each one trying to outdo the other. Crazy halls, crazy extra little shticks, crazy flowers, crazy things put out in the lobby when you walk in…crazy ideas for desserts, etc.” at home before you come out here!

  67. sabra, if you saw someone from a small family buying $50 worth of pizza, you can assume it’s not for just his family. My family of six can have a big pizza dinner for $18, eating two slices each.

    Even if we got the kids ice cream cones after, you’re still looking at less than $25. So if you’re talking about a small family, how could they even EAT $50 worth of pizza? Unless they charge $30 a pie by you, which I highly doubt, there’s obviously more to the story and you have a mitzvah to be dan l’chaf z’chus and assume so.

  68. To #70

    The Affordable Chasunah Plan
    PO BOx 2133
    Monroe, NY 10949

    It would do us all good to read this and implement some changes. Fantastic Plan.

  69. I think what we need to do is to look at what is required from a wedding and what we expect. Is there a need to invite 500 people, or even 200? How about the fancy spread with 80 different things on a buffet table? A non Jewish friend of mine just got married*, she did away with a band and put the music on an ipod on shuffle (and she got an ipod out of it as well) the food was a friend of hers doing BBQ. There is no reason that a frum wedding can’t be like this, invite a small number of people, have a big BBQ and be done with it. You might even have enough money left over to buy some furniture.

    * No I wasn’t there, I just heard about it

  70. Everyone needs to ask themselves: What kind of social pressure are we helping to create that would cause someone to act so crazy? What would you have thought of this guy if he had not given a fancy wedding for his daughter? Would you think that he is a miser, that he doesn’t know how to properly do the mitzvah of being B’Sameach? Would the Chosson’s family or anyone else even have consented to the marriage if they knew the Kallah’s family could not help pay for the wedding?

    Here is the crux of the problem that I am currently having with my religion. The things that G-d requires of us as Jews (as written in His
    Torah) are a lot, but actually not as much as many people think. I believe G-d is quite understanding about our individual abilities & His law accepts that we are different. However, there is one mitzvah in the Torah that argues against this idea–We all have an obligation to do what the Rabbis tell us & follow the standards of the community that we find ourselves living in. This in effect makes everything legislated by the Rabbis or adopted by the community as a whole into a Torah law.

    Many of these Rabbinical laws & customs are very difficult for everyone to do. Many of them are outdated & no longer have a logical reason for them. Nevertheless, we must continue to follow them for the sake of maintaining the community & often because there is no system for changing them. Anyone who dares to break these laws & customs is an outcast, worse even than if they had broke an actual Torah Law. For example, as I read to you the other day, many people believe it is more important to maintain the custom of not eating gebrokts on Pesach (which many of their parents didn’t even keep)rather than keeping the Torah laws concerning sharing with family & friends. And this is called being “more frum”. I cannot understand it & I do not accept it.

    As we approach the Yom Noarim (Days of Awe), I struggle with where I stand on this issue which cuts across so many other issues. We are taught that you don’t want to stand alone on Judgement Day. Being a part of the community & the Jewish people is the best protection against the Soton’s accusations & the final judgement. I just don’t know anymore.
    Disturbed Baal Teshuva

  71. to number 50 you probably havent seen the film sicko but if you live in the usa you must never ever be without health insurance even if your daughter gets married in her pjs. here in the uk at least we dont know the meaning of worrying about medical bills boruch hashem. from a concerned wellwisher