Friday, April 04, 2008

What Is Your Plan?

A great article by R' Horowitz about having a plan, leading to some very interesting discussion and points in the comments about the issue. A number of commenters have argued that much of the problem lies in Rabbeim and Roshei Yeshiva who discourage students from having a plan, by discouraging things like college, emphasizing trusting that if they learn, God will provide, etc. I've mentioned one of my own similar experiences in the past:
I still recall a conversation I had with a Rebbe in a certain yeshiva I was in for a few months. ...

As we started to walk up the hill toward his home, he asked me a few basic questions, including what my plans were for the coming year. I responded that I was likely going to be going to Lander College. He questioned why I was going to college, to which I looked at him, slightly confused, as I really didn't understand what he was asking. After a couple of seconds I responded that I needed to get a degree so I can make a living. He immediately spoke up and said simply
"That's a copout."
I was taken completely aback, but I recovered enough after a few seconds to mumble something along the lines of "You don't know me, you don't know my family, we don't have any money..." or something along those lines. He responded that it's still a copout and I was just looking for a way out of staying in yeshiva.
But, while I think the commenters at his site are making valid points, I also feel that it can't only be the Rabbeim who are at fault, or even necessarily primarily at fault. Parents should have been emphasizing with their kids throughout their lives that they need to have a plan, that they can't rely on other people for things like money, that it's not okay to have 'how much will the in-laws give' as a prerequisite for dating.

Of course, there are many parents who do do this, only to be undermined to an extent by the Rabbeim, teachers, and other influences in their children's lives. And of course, it is tricky to start telling one's children to not respect their Rabbeim, particularly when they're younger; hopefully, they've instilled the right balance of listening to and respecting Rabbeim while thinking for themselves what makes sense and what does not - what is right and what is not.

Have a wonderful Shabbos, and enjoy G's The Far Side, coming in a few minutes.


  1. side note - "copout" is a classic Rebbi word.

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  3. In a way it's sad (and at the same time funny) and I guess a commentary on the times I have grown up in but...when I read this the two following things leaped to the front of my useless information crammed mind:

    Where were the parents at?
    and look where its at
    Middle america, now its a tragedy
    Now its so sad to see,
    an upper class ci-ty
    Havin this happenin...
    -Marshall Mathers

    or as Chris Rock so eloquently put it...

    You know the worst thing about niggas? Niggas always want some credit for some s*** they supposed to do.
    For some s*** they just supposed to do: A nigga will brag about some s*** a normal man just does.
    A nigga will say some s*** like, "I take care of my kids."
    You're supposed to, you dumb m****f****.
    What are you talkin' about? What are you braggin' about? What kind of ignorant s*** is that?

    "I ain't never been to jail."

    What do you want, a cookie?

    You're not supposed to go to jail you low expectation having m****f****.

  4. It's sad when a Rebbi doesn't know his student well enough to guide him properly. Ez, I'm sure it was pretty evident that you were not the long-term learning type of guy. The Rebbi should have concentrated on making sure you were equipped to go to college and become a productive member of the greater Jewish community. We can't survive without layleaders and 'askanim' either.

  5. The connection to Chris Rock is BRILLIANT!

    Later in that routine, the dumb n**** says he's avoiding education to "keep it real"... which is exactly how Rebbeim are presenting this to kids - that in the misremembered fantasy land of shtetl Judaism, everyone just sat and learned and were SOOOO happy.

    Yeah, right - and they all had parents and in-laws that supported them, bought them silver candlesticks and diamond engagement rings, thousand-dollar wigs and Borsalinos...

  6. As you point out here, I think many parents do emphasize to their kids tht they should make a living. Some of the biggest "flip outs" in yeshiva and seminary in Israel come from homes where the parents either emphasized a Modern Orthodox hashkafa or taught their kids the value of working. The education in Israel needs balance to allow students to improve in Yiddishkeit while still realizng the need to support their families. Problem is, among other things, that balance is something rarely taught in Israel. It's more of a black and white kind of place.

  7. on the contrary, i think that many boys who stay in yeshiva are the true copouts. rather than going out to the working world, where the responsibility falls on them to find time to be kovea itim while simultaneously supporting their family, these boys stay in yeshiva to be revered for their commitment to learning, while being fully supported by parents and in-laws. i'd like to see how strong their commitment to learning remained if they accepted their true responsibility to support their family instead of pawning it off on their parents, inlaws, and overburdened wives.

  8. Jewboy has it right. Parents can be very involved, but it may all go to H--- ironically in Israel. How to grow in your observance and passion for Judaism while supporting a family is not stressed or many times even addressed.
    Also, as you point out, Ezzie, it is hard to conflict with a Rebbe or a Shita of a school. And, make no mistake about it, there is no way to "balance" if a clear message is being sent out that conflicts with the parents' message.