Are Responsible People Missing Something?

This morning I opened my inbox to several shidduch suggestions. There was the 29-year-old guy from Australia who worked in Argentina then Germany then moved to Israel where he plans to live and learn for many years to come. Not so bad, just not for me.

Then there was the 30-year-old guy in California who has four college degrees plus various technical certificates who wants to go to medical school–but not ’til next year. Until then he’s learning. Oookay. He won’t finish paying back his student loans until he’s dead.

Then there’s the 31-year-old guy with the Harvard Business School degree who is learning while dabbling in stocks on the side. There’s a waste of a degree.

How did guys cop out of life before learning became a Thing?

When I complained to my flatmate, she pointed out that 30 is a really lousy time to have a job. “Who in their right mind gets a job when they’re young? It’s the best years of your life! Why would you waste it working all day? Get a job when you’re 80 and can’t do anything else anyway!” she ranted. She might have been upset about doing lesson plans on Sunday.

I hear her point.

Do these underemployed guys know something we don’t know? Who the heck needs a 401k anyway? By the time we retire we’ll either be in a welfare state or the world will have collapsed. Right? Wrong? Why the heck don’t so many 30-year-old men have jobs?!

Postscript: [added 2/19/2013]

Since it is apparently unclear who this post is targeting, I will add the following anecdote.

Yesterday, someone told me, “I went to college, I got a degree, I did the Real World job thing, and I didn’t like it. So I went back to school for a masters in dance therapy. It’s a lot of fun and I’m looking for a position in a hospital working with sick kids.”

This was a non-Jewish woman. She did Real Life, she didn’t like it, but she didn’t have the option of retiring to live on her independent income. So she considered carefully and switched careers.

Jewish men, however, do have an alternative. And that is to retire from Real Life to Learn. When I see a guy with a degree in something boring who is learning, my radar goes on. If he’s got a year of work experience, it starts blipping.  If I’m on a date and he makes a face while saying, “I guess I have to get a job now,” well, that pretty much says it.  And if he’s got a year of experience, then got another degree, then worked briefly again, then decided to learn… Seriously, am I the only one who sees this as a sign?

Don’t get me wrong, Jewish women do this too. I often hear singles claiming they just want to be housewives. Run a finger over their windowsill — does it come away clean? Is there nary a dish in their sink? Do they spend their recreational time over the stove? Do they adore children and want to spend all day with them? Rarely. They just don’t want to work. Since learning is not an option, they just have to hope for a rich husband instead.*

Hm… maybe that’s the problem. Maybe I’m just jealous.

*Before someone jumps down my throat about disparaging housewives: I think it’s a wonderful thing to have a homemaker. And there are women who genuinely want to be there for their husband and kids. But when a woman says, wistfully, “I would make a great housewife” shortly after hating on her job, I suspect her motives.

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68 thoughts on “Are Responsible People Missing Something?

  1. wait. if they have a plan for supporting themselves and a family, why shouldn’t they be learning, at least while they’re still single and even afterwards? and as long as they’re actually learning? isn’t it better to start kollel when you already have the earning potential in your pocket for when it’s needed? (i mean, not based on personal experience or anything. i’m having a great time paying for lots and lots of unemployed kollel families to have the tax breaks and subsidies that we don’t qualify for despite being in kollel also. AND we return the checks to the yeshiva, report all income, work on the books, and have advanced degrees with no debt. the husband reminds me that we received a lot more money for making aliyah than any kollel family will see in a year, but no one begrudges that to us because they’re zionists, but STILL). /rant

  2. How did guys cop out of life before learning became a Thing?

    They became artists/writers/etc. After dead old dad spent tens or hundreds of thousands on education, they decided to drop out and draw, sculpt, write, or otherwise find themselves.

  3. What I find entertaining is when the shadchan says, “He has a college degree, he has a plan, but he wants to learn while he can.”

    OK, guy gets married, up and decides to get a job. Um, have you looked at the economy lately? All those top-paying employers are just going to wait around until you decide to join the rat race?

    Employers (like my father) are very suspicious when a 30-year old applicant shows up with no work experience. “Where were you until now?” And, they are more likely to hire that young kid that just graduated since he has less responsibilities (like children) and can start work on a lower paycheck.

    There is the idea of doing everything in its proper time. If one looks at the fine print, there is that bit about getting a job BEFORE you marry so you CAN support a family.

    What annoys me is how we have somehow twisted that noble endevour to a chisaron. He is now in a position where his family can live a relatively stress-free life, and if he is a serious enough guy he will still make learning a priority. “Working” does not mean “threw his seforim out the window.”

    Did I just rant too?

  4. Yeah, it seems like those 30 year old guys that were suggested to you seem to be more on the unambitious (or even lazy!) side of things. I’m guessing that it would be more appropriate for you to be set up with someone who is at least goal-oriented enough to be working already, even though he doesn’t yet have a family to support. Besides, the money he starts earning pre-family will prove very valuable and the far-seeing individual will start earning when he or she is able–money goes quickly when you have a family!

  5. I have to disagree with you on this one. Let’s take the last guy for example. He has a degree from a top university. He evidently has a head on his shoulders and is hard working. (You gotta work hard if you want to go to harvard and graduate from there.) He figures, well let’s see, eventually when I have a family I will have to work. Now though I am single without much financial responsibilties, why not take advantage of the opportunity and learn. I also resent the idea that learning is a lazy endeavor. Eventually he will join the rat race but why rush it?

  6. There’s a frum single guy from HBS who is learning now? How come I never met him or heard of him?
    Are you making these people up?

  7. Ben – I changed some details to protect the guilty. It wasn’t Harvard and it wasn’t business school, but it was the same league and a similar field.

    ii think – And he basically said he was avoiding working for a living. Details withheld to protect identity.

    Anyone who thinks getting a job can happen any time within three decades after getting their degree is living in a pleasant alternate universe, probably with Puff as their next door neighbor. It’s hard enough to get a good job with just a degree and no relevant work experience. If you have a gap of three years, you’d better have good connections and a lot of charm.

    Learning isn’t necessarily a lazy endeavor. But if you’ve, say, got 4 college degrees, it might suggest that you’ve run out of other things to study. Or maybe run out of money to pay for degrees.

  8. ii think: You’re right–learning should not be considered a lazy endeavor right off the bat–that was my bad. But as a married mom of two, it’s tough for me to now fathom how someone who can be earning and saving money is not. Learning can also be done during one’s spare time while work is done for the main hours. This is just coming from my personal experience, and it might be just as hard for a single man to consider the financial responsibilities that even a small family like mine can entail.

  9. I’d say RUN from the guy who has 4 degrees and wants to enter yet a DIFFERENT filed – next year. To be honest, I don’t understand why the Shadchan even tried to set him up. To me this is a guy who will not only never try to support a family, but a guy who cannot make a commitment. And, he won’t ever be honest about it, either.

    On the other hand the guy dabbling in stocks may not be so bad. It’s hard to know of course, given we have so little information, but he does seem to be doing something income earning. I think the first question I would ask there is what does “dabbling with stocks on the side” mean – a given number of hours each week devoted to the disciplined use of the stock market to make money or wild “get rich quick schemes” or random “I’m a hotshot stock market maven” dabbling?

    The other thing is, I don’t understand why you call it a waste of a degree. Learning Torah is (or should be) a highly intellectually challenging activity (no matter what your education level) and there are definitely some areas where business degree or the like can be highly useful. (I refer you to Dr. Meir Tamari http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meir_Tamari#Selected_publications for some examples.)

  10. Observer – you’re right. I was thinking of the usefulness of the business degree after several years out of the job market. But it should definitely bring a new and interesting perspective into learning.

  11. I have to argue here. I’m 26 and started working full time in a professional job at 24 and that seems to be the biggest turn off for girls. The only people impressed with the fact that I work and make a decent living are my guy friends and women who have been married for years and understand what bills are.

    Most every girl I date is turned off by the fact that I work and enjoy my job. I’m almost at the point of telling girls I quit my job and learn in yeshiva full-time. I figure they won’t be able to find out the difference and I’ll tell them the truth after shana rishona.

    So maybe these guys are doing the same??

  12. Well, as regards the non harvard non business student, he may have been unable to get a job upon graduation. Like say he was Columbia Law School and was at the bottom of the class and graduated in 2011.

  13. At this point, I like to add my $0.02 worth of understanding and advice. I realize this post is quite long but I had to say this in regards to the posters.
    a] The Kollel man must be married and usually a top learner to be getting a salary based on family growth from the Kollel institution. In my own personal observation, I remember several Kollel men who specialized in learning either Hilchos STAM [Sefer Torah, Tefillin and Mezuzoth], Hilchos Shechita, or Hilchos Bris Milah or upon leaving the Kollel found a job as a Yeshiva Rebbe, Mashgiach, or Jewish Community Worker .
    b] To The University Grads who are working, if you want to get ahead you must do several things, all are mentioned in two books called Law of Success. and Think and Grow Rich, by Dr. Napoleon Hill. Study and APPLY the principles in these two classics CAREFULLY as every motivational seminar Speaker derives most of their thinking from his works. Most people do as little as possible on the Job instead of DOING MORE THAN PAID TO DO. Your job is an opportunity to learn interpersonal skillls and earn a higher salary from either your present employer or your next employer.
    c] Stop walking around with your eyes closed when you are out shopping or a social event NOT on Shabbos or Yom Tov,. Take a small notepad and pen and EVERY time you find a new idea JOT IT DOWN and then when you get home review carefully … Sometimes you find a better way to Manufacture or Market the product. Do the same at home or anytime you hear something from a kvetcher [chronic complainer] that can be catalyst for a major improvement of a situation. I will tell you a secret that many people just haven’t utilized … when you are talking to a friend or new acquaintance at a tnayim a chasanah or a bris mila or pidyon haben or siyum or simcha, carry your own business cards. Ask them for theirs. How many times I meet people at a simcha and they tell me “sorry i left them in the office” . The cost to make these cards are a drop in the bucket compared to the potential business you may generate just by having 3 dozen cards in your coat pocket or purse [yes ladies] to hand out at your friend’s simcha.

  14. To Observer You said:
    I’d say RUN from the guy who has 4 degrees and wants to enter yet a DIFFERENT filed – next year. To be honest, I don’t understand why the Shadchan even tried to set him up. To me this is a guy who will not only never try to support a family, but a guy who cannot make a commitment. And, he won’t ever be honest about it, either.
    Now let me ask
    He has 4 degrees in different fields or just a higher level in a non productive area, like study of say Shakespeare unless he’s going to be a performer at Stratford, then his degrees are just hanging on the wall gathering dust. it’s not what you know that counts but what you DO with what you know that counts. You can get some thoughts from my previous post above.
    Some 70 to 90 Years ago, the immigrants coming to North America worked hard and long hours and they got their kids to be “Mein Son the Docteur, Mein Son the Furniture Macher, Mein Son the lawyer, Mein Son the Bookkeeper-Accountant. and Mein Son the Businessman.
    Fast forward to today.. what is this generation of parents saying? As long as he’s not a Nudnik [thanks to all the psycho-babble around today] or a Gonif or a rodef why can’t he be happy becoming what I am [a lawyer, accountant , Doctor, pharmacist]. Perhaps we have forgotten the principle taught in Mishle Chanoch Lana’ar Al Pi Darcho – Train the child according to his [or her] way with the objective of bringing out of the best in his [or her] character.
    I’d like to remind all of you that a Shidduch is made with two people who are both Ezer [helpers] and K’negdo [opposiites] as John Gray explains Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus – two different worlds – and they are both on planet Earth, and unless you learn to work together to make a shidduch work, it will wind up in the divorce court [over 50 % of 1st marriages wind up in divorce and while this generation of frum marriage is not that high yet] it is considerably higher than our grandparents’ generation.It was Hashem’s intention that when you get married you both work on your own duties and encourage each other, and you will be matzliach in building a bayis ne’eman b’yisrael and a binyan adei ad.

  15. To: I Think who Wrote:
    … He figures, well let’s see, eventually when I have a family I will have to work. Now though I am single without much financial responsibilties, why not take advantage of the opportunity and learn. … Eventually he will join the rat race but why rush it?
    Now here’s the point. What is amiss here is that he can take another option:
    I know many men who are working full time AND learning at night in the KOLLEL.Some are young married men and some are like the guy mentioned above.
    I fully grant the guy a year to learn or explore options like making Aliya solid, but to learn full time for longer would mean he’s clearly NOT going to look at USING his knowledge in Society…
    Imagine a young Graduate Doctor with his skills putting his time in learning full time in the Kollel for the next 5 years. While he is in the Kollel he is literally being judged in Shamayim for hundred of violations of Pikuach Nefesh that only he was destined to save. Hashem gave him tremendous ma’alehs and he chooses not to use them… for this idea see the Garden of Emunah the first chapter or two.

  16. but why rush it?

    Because living an orthodox Jewish lifestyle is VERY costly and the earlier you start earning and saving money, the better off you will be over the long-term.

  17. No doubt you commented on the part i also commented on … Yes Orthodox living is costly but you missed my main point – that of being a productive member of the community and the fact that he can work during the day or night and some of the time spent learning and working the other part of the time. [is what our sages in pirkei Avos discussed it] Rabbi yosef hasandler.[the shoemaker] is an example of this in the days of the talmud …we have both the Rambam.and the Ramban as physicians.the Rambam Wrote a treatise on Medicine which is very much in use today as a general textbook on health.

  18. As to our lifestyle being expensive, well you pay for many fad items like Kosher gourmet items instead of buying the basics,…and didn’t you buy that delicious yummy chocolate cake because you tasted it at a simcha … $3.00 can buy a big watermelon or a basket of peaches or a pack of smokes, too. so who are you kidding/? When was the last time your wife or lady friend bought 20 pounds of potatoes for the price of buying ready made 4 or 5 kugels. Yes orthodox living is expensive because we buy Kosher sushi or ready made salads … and we’re trying to keep up with the Wasserman’s down the block.
    Our bubbas and zeidas would say we’ve been spoiled too much. They lived in a time when smoked carp and a piece of herring were considered a delicacy to be savoured on Shabbos. now we have tehina, eggplant salad and dozens of other things we gotta have for shabbos.
    PS when was last time your wife made a homemade olde fashionede Shabbos from Scratch?.
    Not mentioning the cost of Yeshiva and seforim for our children or clothing in style for the new school year [what happened to last year's
    dress at cousin sara's chassanah?] … why won’t it do for your friend Raizy’s chasanah .

  19. David, I understand what you are saying and I agree, overspending (often to impress others) is the bane of orthodoxy (and others) today. However, it isn’t sushi that makes the lifestyle expensive, it’s primarily the cost of education, and secondarily the cost of housing. In our case, tuition far outweighs everything else, even everything else combined (housing, utilities, food, insurance, healthcare, clothing, travel, etc)!

    Aside from tuition, we generally live quite modestly. My wife makes shabbos (including challot) every week from scratch. The only prepared items we buy periodically are sliced deli and chumus (prepared is cheaper than making it ourself).

  20. Before I read the comments- uh, 30 years old is a great time to work and have a job. Yes, it’s nice to be young and travel the world before you’re tied down with kids and obligations, but it’s also nice to have money put aside to enjoy said kids and obligations.

  21. ASDF- how much money did you receive making aliyah? Kollelc families earn less than 5,000 a year?

    David Aharon- I quite agree with you that many families spend too much on premade food and clothing and simchas. Our luxury items are books, but nevertheless, that does not detract from the fact that as Mark said, tuition is expensive. We live down in Memphis, which is not as expensive rent-wise as other Jewish communities, but let me put it this way- before we moved to the Jewish neighborhood, we lived in an 800 sq. ft 2 bedroom 1.5 bath apartment for the grand sum of $395 dollars a month. It was in an area with AAs and Hispanics but safe. Now in the Jewish neighborhood, same size would be double.

  22. I think what many of you are saying is logical per se but it doesn’t factor in the religious aspect of life. If someone truly believes that learning torah is of the utmost importance and that ultimately, passed ones due hishtadlut, parnassah is up to hashem, than it only makes sense that one should take advantage of an opportunity to learn while not having to worry about parnassah. I don’t believe most people on this blog disagree with my premise. I do believe they disagree about the proper deliniation of due hishtadlut. As for that, I think that proper hishtadlut is very much an individualistic endeavor and what may sound like not enough for you might be more then enough for others.

  23. iyhby

    Sounds like you are dating the wrong girls! There are plenty who are looking for and will respect someone gainfully employed.

  24. Too late at night to read all these comments. I think it depends what you are brought up with/your hashkafa. Personally, I will only say yes to guys who are in college going for a degree/have a job. Nothing against learning full time, but it’s just not my hashkafa. @bad4shidduchim – Thinking about it, I don’t think I’ve even ever gotten suggested someone who is planning to learn for a while (maybe only from dating websites), so I guess stay away from these people who give you random suggestions.

  25. essentially you need a Modern orthodox guy who shares your values of working and learning as a secondary thing not people in Yeshivish circles which seems to be what you think you want and you dont as it seems the commenters here in general don’t look for Yeshivish look for Modern Orthodox and your problems with learning being over-prioritized will be solved. BAD4 SAY IT LOUD AND SAY IT PROUD I AM NOT YESHIVISH I AM MODERN ORTHODOX

  26. Mindy, we could ask another Question worth consideration – what makes the rent douible in The Jewish area… compared a a mixed area of relatively safe of hispanics , blacks, jews and white groups. Are the landlords at fault? and again re working vs learning after he has graduated from a university program why cant he work to benefit society 1/3 of the day and lean at night in the yeshivah or kollel. as did the rabbi cobbler in the days of the mishna. [see Pirkei Avos] I mentioned that both the Rambam and the Ramban were medical doctors… and as one woman mentioned her father would be concerned that he has no work experience to show when starting out after Stayging in learning in the Beis Medrash … for 1 or 2 years….and if you have a job that you travel by car to and from why don’t you leave the car home and go by

  27. {continued]
    If you have a job and travel by car to and from the job only, it’s possible that you can get to work by public transportation and let the paid driver drive and you get a seat and get a chumash or mishmayos or talmud out and instead of watching the scene out the window LEARN. When i was working, I covered the Parshat Hashavua with a different Perush every year.in English. Rashi, Ramban, Hirsch, and part of the big set of Me’am Loez.as well as others. I also saw people who said Tehilim, Daf Yomi, Mishnayos – all in the TIME on the Bus or Train to and from work. and you can STILL learn at B’KIYOS a NIGHT SEDER in your local Yeshiva or kollel., I watched a man on Shavuos night learn for hours non stop. I watched on occasion a young Rebbe teach a Daf Yomi to the older generation in a small shul in my home town.

    Other benefits:
    a] you arrive at work Refreshed M’shivas Nafesh
    b] you meet many new people you might M’karev to Yiddishkeit.
    Earlier i suggested the simple thing of a pocket sized notebook that can also be used in many other ways. for remembering a new idea for a possible product to be developed, a possible new new friend who could be reddin a shidduch, a chavruta…and of course taking notes on that piece of daf yomi you just finished learning.
    .

  28. well, sal klita alone for a couple in 2012 was NIS 33971, given out over seven months. government kollel stipends seem to be about NIS 825 a month for a couple. no comparison.

  29. oh yeah- rent and utilities out of town might be cheap, even in frum neighborhoods, but, tell me- what do you pay a pound for chicken out there? meat? wine? cheese?

  30. The Jewish neighborhood is a nicer place in general- when I say Jewish, I mean it’s near the shul- most of the homeowners are not Jewish. This is Memhis- we are not as highly concentrated as NY.:)

  31. D A L – You make a lot of assumptions about what people are doing wrong. Others have already commented on your assumptions about what “fad items” and prepared junk they buy. The truth is that for those of us who are not vegan, kosher simply is not cheap. Even if you don’t have any dietary issues, you can’t live on nothing but potatoes and eggs.

    As for the Jewish neighborhood, there may be lots of reasons, good, bad or indifferent, for the hike in rent that some people see, but it makes no difference. Living in a Jewish neighborhood is not an extravagance. A guy needs to be able to get to Shul on Shabbos. His wife needs to get to Mikvah on a (hopefully) regular basis. The kids need access to a frum school and frum pay mates. (It’s not for nothing that one of the best predictors of whether a child married Jewish is where they live.)

    As for the car, for some people public transportation makes a lot of sense. For others it makes no sense whatsoever. Sometimes it’s a matter of time and / or energy. Sometimes, it’s actually more expensive to use public transportation. And in some cases, it’s both. Oh, and sometimes public transportation is either so unsafe, unreliable or inaccessible that it might as well not be there. It’s easy to make assumptions that everyone can do just as you did, and if they don’t it’s because they are lazy / wasteful / spoiled / unreasonable / not smart. But, at least as often as not, that’s not the case.

  32. I’m disappointed with (almost) everyone involved in the discussion here.
    Just a little background so that you’ll know where I’m coming from – I started working full time 8 years after finishing college. For all of those 8 years except for one, I was learning, and I was single for six of those years. It certainly was more difficult for me to find a job with the long gap on my resume, but Baruch Hashem it worked out well.

    For people to sit here and say that anyone who is learning is lazy etc., I think the issue is more the fact that you all clearly don’t value learning as much as our Mesorah does. I believe that I accomplished great things during the years that I was single and learning after college, and although I could have been in a much more comfortable financial situation when I got married, I would not trade those years of learning for anything.

    And for someone to say that you can work during the day and learn at night or in the car or on the bus etc. – there is absolutely no comparison between being immersed in only learning the entire day as opposed to learning for a scant few hours (if even that is possible) at night. The difference is not simply a quantitative difference but a qualitative one as well. Maybe you have to be someone who has learned with such single-mindedness to be able to understand the difference. But chiddushei torah don’t come when you’re listening to a shiur in the car or on the bus, or during your one hour night seder. That is the sad reality. It’s just not the same. If you really want to accomplish in learning, you have to be just learning.

    I’m disappointed that you all would make such judgments about young men who could be earning but choose to learn instead.
    Bottom line is, I’m disappointed in all of you, Bad4 included…

  33. I don’t think many here did say that “learning = lazy.”

    While you have made “great strides” and finding a job “worked out,” that is how things rolled for you. God bless. But on the girly side of things, we have the right to choose on some level (as men do) what we are seeking in a spouse. And some of us (such as myself, and seemingly, Bad4) would prefer an employed man who is able to learn. Which does exist.

  34. ASF- thanks for explaining. We’re mostly vegan, so we don’t pay for meat and cheese- here’s what I think I remember: Chicken is I think twoish dllars per pound, meat ranges from 5 something a pound for ground meat to- maybe 8 for others? Cheese is about 4/5 dollars for an 8 oz package, but many people here order from the Kosher co-op where prices are cheaper. Cosco sells Kedem grape juice for about 5 dollars for a slightly larger than 64 oz bottle. I never buy wine, but that’s something ppl order as well.

  35. Princess Lea,
    I took exception to Bad4′s implication that learning is a way to “cop out of life”, and Shifra who said explicitly that a single guy who is learning is unambitious or lazy. But aside from that, there seems to be a general disdain/lack of respect here, both from Bad4 and the peanut gallery, for the entire enterprise of learning rather than working. I honestly found that rather disturbing.

    You certainly have the right to choose what you are seeking in a spouse,and if you desire an employed man who is able to learn, that is of course valid. But you should at least be aware of what I said above, the learning of the employed man (and I am one now) does not compare in quality or quantity to that of the man who is learning full time. An employed man who is able to learn with the same quality as if he was learning only – that does not exist.

  36. To make my point in another way, it’s not fair to call a learning guy “unambitious”, or “irresponsible”, as Bad4 disdainfully implies in the title of this post. More accurate would be that he is ambitious in an area which you don’t value. And that is my sense, that those of you making these judgments value financial stability and not learning. Let’s just be honest about it.

  37. Disappointed, you make a valid point. Except that not everyone who commented said or implied the same thing.

    Some people really don’t have respect for the enterprise of learning Torah full time. Others, however were making a different point.

    I think it’s also worth noting that at least one of the guys that Bad4 described IS almost certainly “copping out” of life. I don’t believe that learning Torah is that important to him – it’s just an excuse. The fact that he already has 4 degrees and numerous certifications but still can’t settle on something speaks volumes. If he had really discovered that what his soul thirsts for is learning torah not any other profession, then he should say so, and stop pretending that he’s going to become a doctor. On the other hand, if that’s not what’s happening, then be honest and don’t use “learning” as an excuse.

    The second thing to note is that taking a long hiatus after finishing college is highly likely to affect earning ability. Of course, Hashem rules the world, so there are no absolutes here, but this is the normal way the world works. That’s ok, as long as you accept that. What worried some is the apparent lack of acknowledgement of the issue.

    On the other hand, I have to COMPLETELY agree with you that the idea that “learning on the bus” could be the same as learning in a study or study hall or this like is simply denial of reality. Same for “learn an hour a day – after a challenging job” is the same as “learn full time”. Not that I’m knocking it – I’ve seen some pretty incredible results of people who really commit themselves to that kind of thing.

  38. Disappointed – there are learners, there are earners, there are learner-earners, and there are earners who would rather learn than earn.
    I date in the learner/earner to earner end of the spectrum, so if a guy is learning full time, especially if he provides throwaway comments or information about working that suggest he doesn’t find it that compelling, well, I think he’s copping out.

    As in: He tried working, didn’t find it much fun, so went to learn instead.
    Or as in: He went to college, had trouble finding a job, got another degree, still had trouble finding a job, gave up and went to learn.
    Or as in: He doesn’t want a real job, so he’s going to learn and diddle around with stocks for fun and profit.

    I’m all for learning – by people who take it seriously as a first priority. Not as a backup when the rest of life turns out disappointing.

  39. Disappointed:

    I suspect that most long-term learners, and those who want to marry them, are not spending time commenting here.

  40. those prices sound remarkably similar to those in parts of NYC. and no, i’m not suggesting OOT life costs nearly the same as NYC, because that would be ridiculous. OOTers generally pay for their choices in lack of meaningful choice in schooling, school quality, and convenience of being frum. though it does depend where.

    disappointed- agreed 100%. but then R’ Shach, quoting חז”ל, advised against marrying a rich girl, because she expects a certain level of comfort that will force a guy to work.

    of course this only applies if the guy is actually learning, which many, married and single, are not. and for the sake of full disclosure, i did everything in my power to hedge against marrying to kollel, but רבות מחשבות בלב איש…

  41. 2 cents and devil’s advocate:

    If you oppose learning during marriage, because the guy has to get a job and is responsible for the welfare of his wife and family (and therefore, if they can’t make it on a simple kollel lifestyle, then they should find a way of income), and oppose learning before marriage (despite the fact that he has a degree in his pocket that can be used, theoretically, despite the problems in finding a job in today’s economy, which is applicable for all those who are looking with or without degrees, (ie, all that planning for the future that is discussed so much)- then when does the guy get to learn full time? Ever? In his teens in yeshiva? When he’s 70 and retired?

    End rant.

  42. Bad4,
    Spare us the lip service. Your post above does not distinguish between those who learn as a first or second option. You lump them all together in the irresponsible category. Conspicuously absent from this post (perhaps from this entire blog) is even a single solitary sentence that does acknowledge the value of learning full time, while the tone of the post (and your comments above, like Feb 12 at 6:22) is one of general disdain for those who learn full time, without distinction. And now that I’ve called you out on it, you’re back to paying the requisite lip service to the idea of learning.

    You’re certainly entitled to make your own choices, and I’m not going to try to convince you of anything, but at least be honest with yourself and your readers about it.

    So let’s try this honesty thing:
    Bad4, do you really value learning, or are you just paying lip service?

  43. I agree with Bad4. But then again, I’m a single in my mid 30′s and have come across many single guys who just don’t seem to have it together in regards to taking responsibility for their own life, let alone a wife/family. Just ask any shadchan who deals with older singles (and by “older” I mean at least 30+) how girls react to guy in that age range who is still in yeshiva full time–probably something the line, “so what’s his issue”/”why hasn’t he gotten himself together yet?”.
    It’s just not the same as somebody the same age still learning full time but got married ten years before. And I suspect that the people above who don’t get where Bad4 is coming from are either younger or got married when they were younger than she is.

  44. Re: single guy in 30s sitting in Kolel learning [without pay]
    A] He shoild be involve in using what he learns either as a Rebbe or any of the fields in Jewish community work or
    B] he is one of the rare individuals who could be on a Beth Din or a unmaried Rabbi of a Small shul even part time.
    His learning must not be an end in itself.

  45. maybe they are too busy avoiding Bitul Torah .. after all many gedolim [assurred] forbade [he use of the internet

  46. Hm. Good conversation. I should say that I commend Disappointed and NMF#7 for their input. I can’t make global statements about the nature of people still learning in their 30s, since I have no experience with them, but I will say that upon reflection, I appreciate Dspntd’ and NMF7′s perspective.

    I went to seminary for three and a half years after high school, the first two of which were simultaneous with college and working, and I know that I would have a far more crude and under-developed understanding of Judaism than if I had not gone. My husband converted at age 22 and spent the next 6 years learning FT- he started working FT around 8 mos after we got married. And yes, he is very tired after working, esp six days a week, so cannot learn as much as he would like.

  47. To Disappointed: Please try to see this from a female perspective.

    Girl worked hard in high school and college and possibly grad school. Girl has at least a middle class salary. Her salary isn’t abstract in the slightest- it very clearly is paying for real things that exist- food, a place to live, the bills.

    While Guy might not work in her field and/or understand it, he can see how this is benefiting him- he eats the food, lives with her, and uses electricity and water etc. Girl doesn’t have that relationship to Guy’s learning- if Girl leaves in the morning for her job, and Guy says “I’m going to learn now,” HOW DOES SHE KNOW HE DID IN FACT LEARN WHEN SHE GETS HOME? SHE CAN’T. She might know he went to the kollel, but how can she know what he in fact DID there? SHE CAN’T

    Girls, like guys, instinctively hate a free loader. “But I’m contributing to the yiddishkeit, the foundation of our home!” Guy might in fact be doing that. But Girl can’t know that Guy doing that the way she knows he’s making money. When Guy makes money, she sees that now they can afford a nicer place to live or more kids or whatever it is they value. When Guy is working, Girl KNOWS he isn’t a free-loader.

    SOCIETY IS MADE OF PEOPLE WHO NEED THINGS. If Guy can’t deliver what Girl needs, she won’t marry him. There are less guys who can deliver concrete things than girls who want concrete things- and more guys who can deliver abstract things than girls who want abstract things.

    The ketuba clearly says that a man’s responsibility is to provide for his family, so OUR RELIGION SAYS THAT LESS GUYS SHOULD LEARN FULL TIME. The girls who say that guys should work are in fact right according to our religion.

    “But her father can tell if I’ve learned all day or not! He went to yeshiva, he can tell a phony from the real thing!” So go marry her father.

  48. I don’t think it’s fair to call Bad4 out in public. You wouldn’t do it to her face in real life, so we shouldn’t do it here where there are enough “regulars” that it’s as if this a public area full of people who know each other.

    It’s not nice, and counter-productive to ever convincing anyone of anything.

    I don’t blame you for bringing it up here (I myself posted earlier to say I agreed with you), but now that I see where the discussion is heading I really think it should be private. Regardless of what she really feels. (I have no doubt she could argue either way, if she would want.) Some discussions shouldn’t be held in front of a peanut gallery (read: us).

  49. to For Real:
    I think many (most?) wives can easily tell when their husbands are accomplishing in their learning and when they’re not. And I also don’t think Disappointed was saying that it’s not a girl’s right to choose a working guy. I think he was just speaking out against equating learning with laziness.

  50. anonymous- i’m older than Bad4 and was when i got married. and i also dated a million guys who didn’t have it together. you know it when you see it. but that doesn’t mean that all FT learning guys qualify, though far be it from me to suggest that none do.

    for real- you’re not wrong at all. in fact, my husband’s rosh yeshiva calls the guys out on that all day. and he doesn’t defend them to their wives when the wives complain that they work so hard (and imply that their husbands don’t). if a guy sits with that for long enough, it probably gets uncomfortable. you can tell when a guy is serious about learning and not just goofing off.

  51. “I think many (most?) wives can easily tell when their husbands are accomplishing in their learning and when they’re not.”

    “you can tell when a guy is serious about learning and not just goofing off.”

    How? I’m genuinely curious. Are there near-universal signs that a man is indeed learning the way a paycheck is a near-universal sign that a man is working? By “signs” I mean “signs that someone who doesn’t know how to learn (girls) can see.”

  52. knee-jerk response- can’t tell you, i do know how to learn (see above re hedging against marrying to kollel). we do talk about what he’s been learning.

    response that’s shayyach to normal people- “accomplishing” in learning means engaging in it as seriously as someone might take a job (or even more seriously). that means hakpada on being on time to shul and to sedarim, possibly making up any lost hours, and conducting oneself in a manner befitting an avreich. it’s really not so hard to spot. a serious guy is serious at work or in the bais medrash, and a slacker is a slacker everywhere.

  53. I appreciate everyone’s input here. For Real – I just want to point out that the prior discussion and my comments above were regarding single guys who are learning, not married guys.

    jk – I don’t think it’s unfair to call out Bad4 here. It’s true that I probably wouldn’t do it to her face in real life, but I would venture that Bad4 also wouldn’t make disparaging comments about learning guys in real life either. In my opinion,this forum is not “real life”, and I think that makes it easier for an honest exchange of ideas to occur. I was responding to what I perceived as a slap in the face to learning guys by calling Bad4 on it, if she wants to she can respond and show me where I erred, and if not then not.

  54. For Real, I don’t know what world you live in, but I can tell you that plenty of people who bring home a paycheck are NOT serious about what they are doing. Sometimes it doesn’t make a difference, but other times it does.

    It’s pretty simple to see which person takes things seriously and which one doesn’t As mentioned, things like meticulousness about seder, etc. is a clear indicator. Also, how a guy talks about his day and his learning.
    I think that most girls, even ones who want someone who can bring in a nice paycheck are smarter than you give them credit for. They are looking for the paycheck because they are unable to make judgements without tangible items to guide them.

  55. @ Dissapointed

    Aren’t there people who do know her in RL here?

    Anyways, look–Of course it isn’t nice to bash learners here, and I appreciate the importance of pointing the source of such comments out to the gallery. But the point has been successfully made, so I don’t think the extra zest is needed (like about the lip-service, etc.). You have accomplished the goal of pointing it out, and now it’s just trying to call her out and put it on display.

    This isn’t a discussion about which lifestyle approach is right or wrong at all, its a discussion on how much Bad4 respects learning. This should be a public discussion?

    My guess is that she either won’t respond, or we’ll be getting a whole Phd thesis defending/explaining herself here as a result of your pushing her on it, and I assume that was not your goal. Your goal was probably something more along the lines of getting her to reconsider her position by highlighting the underlying source…so I don’t see how this helps. She is NOT going to come and say “You’re right, I’ve really said some not nice things, I take it back and am rethinking my hashkafa”. I don’t think so, at least. One usually does not get such results from direct arguments…

  56. Oy, I just noticed a really bad typo. I wrote “They are looking for the paycheck because they are unable to make judgements without tangible items to guide them.” I left out the NOT. It should be “They are NOT looking for the paycheck because they are unable to make judgements without tangible items to guide them.”

  57. I wish to clarify the position taken by most of the people here:

    We are looking for an honest man who will abide by the promises he committed himself to do when having a ketubah made up. To refresh our understanding… it starts off with BS”D = with the help of Hashem [heaven] and lists the man’s promise to do the things mentioned to Work for, honor his wife and other things. Notice that the the sages 2000 years ago were aware of those deadbeat husbands who are not working but are sitting around watching mickey mouse cartoons on TV with a can of beer in their hand. Learning in Kollel full time is a good thing if the kollel provides a stipend provided through the generosity of the individuals in the community who pay for his learning. The Kollel does NOT PAY every person who sits and learns full time.
    In turn, the kollel provide our community with Rabbis, community workers, Rebbe in a yeshiva ketana [day school] Mohelim, shochetim, sofrim and non rabbinic leaders in the many fields they serve, as well as the next Gadol Hador like Harav Moshe Feinstein ZT”L to ensure that our tradition is passed down L’dor Vador intact, no matter what the present Dor’s challenges are … Having seen the destructioon of the old European Jewry in ’39-’45, those who came to North America and Eretz Yisrael and other places were determined to set up communities that continued this way with the new Challenges brought about by modern living. Not all communities can boast of a Kollel or a Yeshiva Gedolah in the middle of town. [Toronto] Before the Kollel was in Toronto they had a few shuls that had 2 minyanim for shacharis every day. The Kollel attracted people who could come to learn after work as well as full time. in my area there was a shul that brought in a Yerushalmi Rav who set his shul where people could attend services every half hour on the weekday. Notice that the growth of the community needs a lot of frum people who are supporting these few Rabbis who sit and learn. How many communities can talk about readily available KOSHER foods in their local big supermarket with 40 different hechshers on the products sold throughout their store. true they are sold along with the unsupervised counterparts all over the store. The Vaad here recently mailed a lot of people a little card telling them which symbols they can rely on. – as a COMMUNITY SERVICE.
    As for the guy with 4 degrees from University what is he doing with them? He should be working or teaching what he knows [e.g. accountants, lawyers who teach part time, or work with legal aid or with the kashruth committee to ensure intercommunity standards are met in drafting the required documents. Hatzolah ambulance assistance who are sometime ahead of the ambulance, as they get a call in the middle of a workday and they drop whatever non urgent work they do and attend the emergency …

  58. Re Disappointed
    the key point is the guy has 4 degrees BEFORE he learns in Beis Medrash unnmarried . He should have sat right after Yeshivah Gedolah [Mesivta] and then went to college.to get his degrees either got a job or make money tutoring his stuff or take a professorship in community college. We are assuming this man is NOT a recent Ba’al Teshuvah but one who is from a frum family.

  59. jk – I’m all for being called out, in real life and fake. I object more to people who smile politely to my face and roll their eyes behind my back.

    To clarify: I gave partial bios of three guys who I thought were hiding from real life by learning. These guys were redt to me, someone who specifically does not want a learner. In other words – the shadchan didn’t either think they were learning type. They were all around 30, and some had worked for a few years or had a cover “job.”

    This was not a general statement about everyone who is learning. This is a statement about a number of guys who seem to be learning for the wrong reasons. The emphasis is on men aged 30+.

    I object to being told that I’m not machshiv Torah simply because I don’t think it’s the best use of everyone’s time.

    Some people should learn FT. Some people PT. And some people should stop pretending they’re interested in learning when they’re really just hiding out from real life.

    When I reread the post, I can see where you might read it to disparage everyone who is learning. But if you reread it, you may find that actually, it doesn’t.

  60. Some people should learn FT. Some people PT. And some people should stop pretending they’re interested in learning when they’re really just hiding out from real life.

    I would go even a bit further. There are also people that are learning, that love to do it, that are makpid on every seder, yet still aren’t very good at it. As an analogy I’ll put forth the child who hears from his parents for years that they “have to” become a doctor. And they indeed work hard, put in the hard and long hours, to get accepted to medical school. Then, after they enter medical school, they realize that they aren’t very good at it, that they have no passion for it, and that it isn’t a good fit for them at all (in fact, I know someone like this – he earned a full scholarship to a good medical school, attended one year, realized he wasn’t suited for the profession, quit school, gave up the full scholarship, and later became an attorney instead).

    I would say that not only is it a bad choice for a person to force oneself to do something that one isn’t suited for, but it even is a cruelty for a community, using peer pressure and other forms of communal pressure, to force the bad choice upon a person in various ways.

    Since communal support for full-time learning is a finite resource, it ought to be focused where it will accomplish the most good, the most learning, and the best quality learning. That means that, over time, those best suited for it should be the ones selected for that “field” of endeavor. In the end, we need both Yissachars and Zevuluns.

  61. Mark says:
    I would say that not only is it a bad choice for a person to force oneself to do something that one isn’t suited for, but it even is a cruelty for a community, using peer pressure and other forms of communal pressure, to force the bad choice upon a person in various ways.
    I agree and so did Shlomo Hamelech when he wrote Sefer Mishle.[Book of Proverbs] found in Ketuvim in our Tanach.
    The child has innate qualities and talents that need to be encouraged .. The parents’ job is to suggest some careers that maximize the use of his/her talents for the good of his family and community. Note the order Family first and then community.
    Perhaps the problem found today by frum parents seems to that if he goes into say a field that is not what we call “inside”, he”ll meet people who challenge “our frum Bekesher Shtreimel” way of life so he’ll wind up wearing a dark or medium coloured suit to shul on Shabbos.at the local Agudah Shul and be president of a medium size corporation selling Home Programmable Shabbos Microwvaves. . [set before Shabbos]. With this, he gets a 6 figure salary that allows him to support our various community projects like sponsor or adopt a poor Jewish child through a Jewish day school.

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