Monday, November 19, 2007

On Sad Perspectives

There are a couple of posts that I've read in the past day that sadden me tremendously; one of them it is obvious why, the other I think would upset people more than it saddens them. [click expand to see the excerpts]

The two posts are Jewboy's Moment of Perspective on Northern Parkway
I find myself behind an SUV. I noticed that there was a somewhat elaborate display in the back windshield that featured a depiction of two baby feet. The display read something similar to "Our Little Man-4/29/03-8/16/03. Around the license plate were the words-"Some People Dream of Angels-I Held One in My Hands." There were several bumper stickers promoting SIDs awareness as well. As a parent of a a young child, my heart went out to these people who were obviously devastated by the loss of their young infant. And my problems with the traffic suddenly seemed rather insignificant.
and Sephardi Lady's Better to be Supported by the Community & Welfare?
My husband has been learning for 12 years, not exclusively, but at least part-time. (Most of the years it was full time.) Even when we first got married, we did not receive any regular support from either set of parents. It was simply impossible for them. Yet, we both felt strongly that the type of family we wanted to establish was based on my husband remaining in yeshiva as long as possible, and, after that, staying in the “yeshiva environment” when employment became necessary. This is not chas v’shalom to denigrate anyone who doesn’t do this; everyone has their own needs, talents and tafkid. However, for me, this was such a strong feeling that I could not bear to have it any other way (although this was not the derech that either of us grew up with in our own families).

I always pushed - no, encouraged - my husband to stay in yeshiva. He didn’t need to be pushed. He always wants to learn and feels awful on a day during bain hazemanim when he barely gets to learn because he is so busy with the kids, etc. But sometimes he’d wonder if it was “time to go to work” because of parnassa. I’d tell him no, because:

a) I can’t bear to have him go into a non-yeshiva environment,
b) Even more than that, I know he could never manage in such an environment (he cannot bear to be exposed to the outside influences; plus, he is quiet, shy, and not a go-getter), and
C) I know that it wouldn’t help financially anyway. He’d never earn the $100,000 (now I read that it’s more like $200,000 - I’m shocked) needed to support a large family, k”ah. What would happen is that we’d lose Medicaid and Section 8 and be worse off than before, chas v’shalom. I’d rather be poor and in kollel, than just plain poor!
I just don't understand. I think the woman here is being brutally honest about her perspective; and I actually think that she's right, in her specific situation, to stay in the life she is in than to try and make that huge transition. (Economically, practically, they wouldn't gain, and emotionally and psychologically they'd be saddened.) What saddens me is the perspective: She says their families didn't have this derech, so where are they picking this up? Who is teaching them so strongly that kollel is the way to go that she 'can't bear to leave it'? Where are they picking up the idea that choosing a life which will - l'chatchila - essentially guarantee a reliance on items such as Medicaid and Section 8 is okay? I believe it is one thing to take advantage of such programs when you fall into a certain situation; I think it is quite another to
place yourself into such a situation. Who is encouraging a large family for this couple who cannot afford it? [Within halachic parameters, obviously.] She also mentions a bunch of items that "thank God someone gave them money" for. I just can't understand where these perspectives come from - who is teaching them that this is a life to live? As a couple of friends of mine like to say, "How is that okay?"

How is that okay?