Remarkable Replies

We often make fun of dumb shidduch questions. Because, let’s face it, they can be strange. What animal would she be? Why did his grandparents move to the USA? Why did she go to that seminary if she’s supposed to be smart? But sometimes the answers you get are even stranger.

Like the mother of a son who was somewhat put out to be told: “She would scrub toilets to support Torah!”

An excellent sentiment, no doubt. The sort of thing aidel bais yaakov maidels are encouraged to anticipate with great joy on a regular basis. But the mother of this son had not graduated bais yaakov recently. Thus, she found the image of her daughter-in-law on her knees enthusiastically scrubbing toilets for a living while her son learned a little off-putting.

While investigating a young woman for Also4, my mother once found herself listening to a description of the perfect family: nine children, the mother a loving housewife, the father in the bais midrash studying. A charming family portrait in muted oil colors. Only one thing was missing.

“Uh, how do they pay their bills?” Mother asked.

“The apartment is paid for,” the neighbor said. “There aren’t many expenses after that.”

“Really,” the Mater said. The conversation was beginning to leave the world she knew, but had not yet dived into the Twilight Zone. “But even so, they must have some sort of income. Nine children?”

“Well, not all of them are still at home,” the neighbor pointed out. “Really, they don’t need much.”

My mother raised a mere five children herself, and never got the impression that we didn’t need much. Especially when we were teenagers and it was supper time. Or lunch time. Or breakfast time. Or snack time. Or any time between.

“Not much, but something!”

“Well, it’s not for you or I to ask,” the neighbor said primly.

Okay, we have arrived. Play the theme music.

“Really,” said the Mater.

“That’s code for ‘he sends naïve yeshiva bochurim to Japan with drugs,’” I suggested. (I was at the kitchen table having a mid-morning, post-snack nibble.)

“They do live in Bnei Brak,” the Mother said thoughtfully.

We tried to put a positive spin to vagrancy. It was difficult. I  mean, that was a common conviction of Jazz era gangstas. It bodeth not well.

Of course it is possible that they wear clothing from a gemach, eat out of Yad Eliezer packages, use electricity only for emergencies, and live off their child tax credits. That would be better than trafficking illegal substances – by a photo-finish margin.

So Also4 went out with the Future Convict’s Daughter.

Nothing came of it.

We were all very relieved.


15 thoughts on “Remarkable Replies

  1. Isn’t there a generous (relatively) child allowance in Israel? I mean, my cousin just had a baby … it’s like getting a raise, right? If they live in Bnai Brak, I couldn’t comment – things are just different in Israel.

  2. As part of a two-career couple, who expects our kids to work, I have to say I am a little offended at the implication that this family must be resorting to a life of crime (even in jest). Just because the neighbor was not smart enough to say “Hmm, good question, let me find out”, doesn’t mean there is no non-criminal answer. Could be the father has a brother who supports them, they rely on tzedoka, or, the kids are registered as American citizens and get money from both the US and Israeli governments. None of those would sit well with me, but all are legal.

  3. “I only want to know whether the mother went to the mikvah, which mikvah she went to, and who was the mikvah lady. Don’t you think it’s kind of private to ask what he does for a living?”

  4. lawschooldrunk – I think because while Mrs. Shidduch may have been “Hmmmmm” by this story, she was okay with her son going on a date with someone not perfect. It was redd, so why not? You see for yourself. Correct me if I’m wrong, Bad4, but your brother sounds like quite the gentleman.

    It’s 9 children, people. Even one kid costs a fortune – you know what diapers alone costs? Feeding that many kids is a full time job and requires, at least, some form of money. The government doesn’t give you that much. Although hopefully in conversation for Also4 she assuaged any worries that the family were cat burglars with an incredibly simple explanation that had no humorous merit.

  5. I don’t have much to add, but I just wanted to stop in to tell you that I loved this one, Bad4.
    Supremely well written! (metaphors and all)

    Actually, I take that back. I DO have something to add….
    My sister once asked Rav Shimon Schwab zt’l, what his opinion was on boys learning a trade.
    The Rav said that it was INCUMBENT on every parent to make sure that their sons learn a trade, for a man without the means to earn an HONEST living, might chas v’sholom be tempted to find dishonest ways to earn money…….

  6. The child allowance isn’t *that* generous. My sister (who actually happens to currently live in Bnei Brak)told me that in American money it comes to something like $35 a month. (She and her husband both have jobs.)

  7. Hmmm, just thinking… many couples in EY live like that. How do they make it work? The tuition cost in EY is a fraction of the cost in the US. Perhaps the father draws some kind of salary as a Maggid Shiur or tutor or something like that. There is less of a pressure to “keep up with the Cohens”, so no brand name clothing and stuff like that. You can get food and clohing quite cheaply there, if you want. And oh, yes, no “entertainment costs”. All the amusement parks are of limits (chillul shabbos). The kids basically play on the streets when they have off from school, which is free… But still it’s a bit of a stretch… nine kids? And aren’t they supposed to provide for half an appartment for each of them?

  8. G6, this would be the hashkafah of Torah im derech eretz. (This is unfortunately a dying way of life as many yekkish jews are trading in their minhagim and becoming yeshivish.)

  9. lawschooldrunk – Not everyone has given up on Torah Im Derech Eretz yet (which – you are correct – is EXACTLY what I was referring to). The pendulum always swings and when no one is left who is willing or able to support the growing glut of learners, this way of life will be looked upon with renewed appreciation.

    (It always fascinated me – as an aside – that when the Yeshivish right wing are looking for doctors and lawyers and teachers, they only want FRUM ones, but they give little thought to the fact that in order to GET frum ones, you need to EDUCATE frum ones….)

  10. It’s not that the children NEED much as they may WANT much. One can get by sufficiently if they do not want any more than that. I can only hope that Also4 sets some higher expectations.

  11. cheap > 0.
    honestly, better to traffic drugs and launder the cash then live off tzedaka, public assistance, and other tax dollars furnished by hard-working people. sigh.

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