Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Learners complain about fathers-in-law

The following is a letter from two learners in Lakewood complaining about their father-in-laws. After the letter will be my response to them:

Dear Editor,

Why do I have to feel like I am being fahered every time I go to my shver's house in Brooklyn? I understand that he gives us money each month and we appreciate that very much. But does that mean that I have to be subject to questions about what I'm learning and pressured to say vertlack on the parsha every time we visit?

My in-laws are very nice people. They shower my wife, 5 children and me with gifts, they bought us a car, among other things, and graciously give us a monthly check to keep us afloat. Is that the reason that my father-in-law feels compelled to quiz me every time I come to his house? I mentioned this issue to a friend of mine who said that he experiences the same exact thing. This friend encouraged me to write this letter to the Yated. Actually, he's pushed me for months to write something, but I never got around to it.

Perhaps there is a father-in-law out here who can explain it to us. Why do you have to bombarded us with your questions on our limudim and with your vertlack on this inyan or that inyan? It is not that we aren't interested. It is just that we somehow are made to feel that we have to constantly be ready for our next "exam" when we meet you.

(This is surely not as bad as a different friend's shver who actually makes him fax a shtickel Torah to him once a month. This friend lives in Yerushalayim, while his father-in-law lives in New York.)

There are other issues about in-laws that my friend wanted me to share, but for now I think this one will suffice.

Answers, anyone?

Two friends, C.R. & M.F. Lakewood, N.J.

Ok...so... I don't even know where to begin. This guy is seriously out of his mind. Here is my response to him/them

1) You have 5 kids, get yourself a job already. Pay for your own car. Shower your wife and kids with presents YOU *earned* the money for.

2) Considering that you're most likely going to say you earn the money your father-in-law gives you, because you're in kolel and you're fulfilling the mitzvah of Torah study not just for yourself and your family but for him as well, in that case, your father-in-law deserves to know that you are in actuality learning. He is after-all nothing more than a business man. He sees you as a good investment for the future of Torah in his family. Just like a stock-holder would look at the balance sheet of a company he's investing in, he needs to look into YOUR paperwork. If you cannot answer basic questions and if your answers do not make sense, and seem sloppy and careless, he will know that he should send you to work and go and support another pride less sucker. His questions are basically like "quarterly reports" and as the sole investor in your venture to "learn full-time" he has the right to irritate the crap out of you. He has the right to make sure he's invested in the right place.

3) About your friend in Yerushalayim... A fax is a fax. His father-in-law is paying the bill anyway. Its not like faxing to the US is complicated because he's not IN the US.


Chutzpah anyone? These guys are sitting and NOT working. Sucking up tzedekah dollars that could actually go to genuinely needy families. And sucking up tax dollars that could be used by families in dire financial need (sudden injury, unemployment, bankruptcy)

In all honesty, I'm in shock that the fathers-in-law are that bright to go and test their SOL. I think thats brilliant. Go figure the fathers are brilliant. Well..brilliant is an overstatment. They did afterall allow agree to pay for such nonsense from the beginning. A decent father wouldn't allow/want his daughter to marry such a guy. Oh well...thats just me.


frustrated frummie said...

my answer to the guy/s that is sitting and learning and feeling pressured when it comes to being questioned on the actual learning, i agree with fs, the asking and receiving answers is your f-i-l's way of getting a receipt from you so that he can be positive that you are learning and not slacking off basically...the next part is that some parents are not the kind that are going to stop their daughter from marrying a guy just because he wants or even decides to sit and learn all day rather then going out to earn money for his family, i know a girl who's father told everyone that she will never marry a guy who is sitting and learning because he simply wont allow it, and guess what she is now married to a guy sitting and learning and the reason that he gave when questioned by my father (mind you he is a very good family friend and not embaressed to say things like this to my family) was that he is so happy that his daughter IS engaged at her age (19) and who is he to come in between them? yes i agree with u that this is not the way it should be however it is the way alot of people are now a days as well as u have to remember that the yeshivos are to blame for brainwashing the kids into either marrying a guy sitting and learning or that a boy going to sit and learn is the only acceptable thing for a young jewish guy to do with his life no matter what.

Malki said...

Hi I have been reading your blog for a long time and now i feel compelled to leave a comment. I married a kollel guy. i am not what most people would call a typical yeshivishe meidele either. Bh my father has been blesses with extraordinary wealth. For him to fund my lifestyle here in Israel is not a big dent in the pocket. We are very fortunate. My father as a boy/teenage was constantly on the run due to the holocaust and communism and never had any time to really sit and learn. I am the youngest in my family and i was pretty late getting married.

The reason? Because i knew my father would have loved for me to marry a boy who would sit in kollel for a few years, it just took ME a few years too, to get used to the idea. And when i did, i did not want a boy who would complain when my father asks him about the piece of gamara that he(my father) is learning. Or when asking to say a Devar Torah when we come to visit would Hu and ha. So too i wanted a guy that I could relate to that would understand ME. In addition i wanted a guy that would understand that bh the shever has more than enough money in the bank to support you lolem voed, but there comes a time in a mans life when YOU have to bring in the money.

BH i can really thank Hashem EVERY day. It took a lot of soul searching and i finally found that man. YES i admit it outright. I live a diffrent life to people really doing it moser nefesh, struggling from pay check to paycheck, trying to figure out where the next months rent is coming from. I live a very cushy lifestyle Bh, and you know what i am willing to accept that while my husband sits and learns. Because for him Kollel isn't a thing he is doing to get out of a job or to pass time or even what seems to be a common reason these days 'because everyone else is doing it'! He is doing it cause he LOVES to learn. Bh i am blessed. Bh he doesn't turn up his nose when my father asks him a devar torah.

So please I ask you Frumskeptic, don't bash all the kollel guys. They are not all one and the same!


abandoning eden said...

malki- you say you got married pretty late. Just curious- what age is "pretty late" by your standards?

one frum skeptic- also curious, what was the yated's (sp?) response to the question?

David said...

No, OFS, I totally sympathize with this guy. I have a nice job, but every once in a while, my boss wants me to either do something or report on something, or accomplish something! Why is he pestering me? What business is it of his? Why not just let me sit and surf the web, like God intended I should?

David said...


"He is doing it cause he LOVES to learn."

Great, and I love to go trap shooting. I don't expect other people to pay for it, however. Your husband needs to get off his back side, be a mensch, and not live off of his rich father-in-law's gravy train.

Lvnsm27 said...

I agree that FIL probably just wants to make sure he's learning something. He deserves at least that much.

Anonymous said...

David: "Great, and I love to go trap shooting. I don't expect other people to pay for it, however. Your husband needs to get off his back side, be a mensch, and not live off of his rich father-in-law's gravy train."

Why? If he doesnt have to, why shouldnt he learn. Learning is his job. His FIL pays him to learn.

artie said...

While I despise this whole kollel business, I definitely side with Malki with this one. Why? Because, it's their money and why should we tell them how to spend it. If I win the lottery, invest the money - live off the dividends and decide to spend my days fishing, are you going to tell me to get a job?

Yes, learning in kollel should be a LUXURY for ordinary people. If you have the money - and PAY tzedaka to be there to learn, learn all you want.

If I was put in charge of this whole Kollel business:

I would throw everyone out, and i mean everyone. This is the only way to weed out the 95%+ bums.

I would then have rigorous testing and allow maybe one boy for a yeshiva who actually belongs. These few people would be paid a normal salary to become the leaders of our shuls and community.

I would of course also welcome anyone who is wealthy, you must pay ofcourse. Its your money, your life, spend as you want it.

frumskeptic said...

Malki- I can understand how some people could afford it, and some really want to do it. The problem lies in the fact that it is a trend. While your father could support you, it seems "ok" to the average person. But how long till the money runs out? If your dad is supporting your husband who isn't working, your no-job ethic is being passed down to your children. Your children will then not want to work, and be like little daddy replicas. What happens then? Even if your father has millions in asset value, theres only so much of the pie that can be cut up among multiple grandchildren. And we're not even discussing great-grandchildren.

Frum people often seem to forget that while Hashem may rule the world, he doesnt plant money trees. He likes hishtadlus. Hishtadlus means working, or setting up an institution which enables full-time learning under practical circumstances (something similar to what artie wrote). Where the community provides for the BEST learners. and only the BEST learners.

AE- I'm a bit behind on my yated reading, so i haven't gotten to the responses. But if there are any (and I'm sure there are) I'll either post them or summarize them in comment form.

david- lol. :). Darn pestering bosses

artie: The difference between Malki's situation and winning the lottery is that Malki is living on her dads money. Tells you something about her hubby's work ethic. Whereas if you win the lotto, you are living off of YOUR money. Whether it was lucky money or hard-earned money, its still your money.

If i had all the money in the world I'd make sure my kids understand how to manage such money (stocks, bonds, funds, realestate) I wouldn't give them access to it until an age I would be comfortable is mature enough for them to understand the value of the dollar. Many in yeshiva have no idea how hard it is to earn a buck. If they did, they really wouldn't kvech if daddy wanted to make sure they were learning.

Moshe said...

I wonder if those 2 parasites ask their kids to say dvar torah and read their parsha sheets on shabbat.

David said...

"Why? If he doesnt have to, why shouldnt he learn. Learning is his job. His FIL pays him to learn."

No, his FIL finances his lifestyle. At present, he is contributing nothing to society or to his family. This is not something that should be admired or encouraged. I would be sympathetic and even supportive if the guy were a teacher or held some other low-paying job, but he's not doing that. He's entertaining himself and expecting someone else to pay.

Anonymous said...

No, his father in law WANTS to pay for him to learn. Trust fund kids contribute nothing to society but noone thinks they should get a job for the sake of it.
If he was learning and expecting society to pay then he should get a job, but he takes nothing from society, he has a job which pays him very well to learn.

mlevin said...

Trustfund kids went to exclusive prep schools and colleges. They are raised with an expectation that one day they will take over the family business or go into something else which is just as lucrative. Yes, there are some which choose not to increase the family coffers, but it is not the expectation.

In the kollel enviroment these children are not receiving an education, just the oposite anything that is taught in secular schools including math is looked down upon. In addition to growing up ignorant these children are raised with an expectation of not working and passing a similar ethic down to their own children.

So there is no comparison between trustfund kids some of whom do not contribute to society and kollel kids where only few contribute to society.

artie said...

My analogy of a lottery winner was a good one. Lets say her father gives her 3 million account in a hedge fund....how's this not like winning the lotto? They can live lavishly just by living off the dividends without ever touching the principal.

It is now their money, lotto ticket is the same as a rich father. Good for them.

ofcourse if they have 10 kids, and every kid wants to sit in kollel or support a man, then there might not be much left for such a life style....Until then, enjoy....I'm going fishing

mlevin said...

Arti - you're missing a point. If you win a lotto or have a hedge fund you yourself may not be working, but you're raising your children with at least an expectation of going to work. Despite your non-working status your children will learn skills that will enable them to get a job and support themselves and their families...

These kollel families are not only not working, but they are instilling the same value in their children. Their children are growing up with an expectation of living off others for the rest of their lives.

This is not different from the welfare families. Young teen girls had babies at young age and were taken care by the government. When their daughters grew up (around 13) they followed their mother's example and used government and pregnancy to take care of themselves. After 2 generations Americans realized that we can't support an expanding welfare state. Americans realized that it needs to be stopped.

How long will it be and how many people will starve to death or die of other poverly related illnesses befor frum community wakes up and realizes that we can't support a rapidly expending kollel state.

Even now, we hear stories of children going to bed hungry, of having only Challah for Shabbos, of people being deeply in debt, of family with 18 children living in one bedroom apartment, etc.

frumskeptic said...

ae: surprisingly the replies to the letter (and there were about 5 of them) were right on target with what I wrote. The letter writers (some full-time learners) were truly disturbed by the "lack of hakaras hatov" those two guys displayed.

One letter really disturbed. The guy wrote that the guys, while ungrateful, do have a point. He said that he's spoken to many young men in kolel, and the consensus is is that the fathers-in-law are way to incontrol. he wrote that just because he gives them money, that doesnt mean he has the right to control every aspect of their lives (where they live, send kids to school, etc).

I think the FIL has every right. He's the one paying for rent and tuition.

The Babysitter said...

FrumSkeptic: I agree with you somewhat about it being like an annual reeport and the father in law deserves it.
Moshe: I wonder the same thing, if they have their children saying d'var torah.

FrumSkeptic: you reminded me of something I got in an e-mail. Kinda contradicts what you said a little bit:

A boat docked in a tiny Mexican village. An American tourist
complimented the Mexican fisherman on the quality of his fish and
asked how long it took him to catch them.

"Not very long," answered the Mexican.

"But then, why didn't you stay out longer and catch more?" asked the American.

The Mexican explained that his small catch was sufficient to meet his
needs and those of his family.

The American asked, "But what do you do with the rest of your time?"

"I sleep late, fish a little and play with my children. In the evenings, I go into the village to see my
friends, have a few drinks, play the guitar, and sing a few songs. I
have a full life."

The American interrupted, "I have an MBA from Harvard and I can help
you! You should start by fishing longer every day. You can then sell
the extra fish you catch. With the extra revenue, you can buy a bigger

"And after that?" asked the Mexican.

"With the extra money the larger boat will bring, you can buy a second one and a third one and so on until you have an entire fleet of trawlers. Instead of selling your fish to a middle man, you can then negotiate directly with the processing plants and maybe even open your own plant. You can then leave this little village and move to Mexico City, Los Angeles, or even New York City! From there you can direct your huge new enterprise."

"How long would that take?" asked the Mexican.

"Twenty, perhaps twenty-five years," replied the American.

"And after that?"

"Afterwards? Well my friend, that's when it gets really interesting," answered the American, laughing. "When your business gets really big, you can start buying and selling stocks and make millions!"

"Millions? Really? And after that?" asked the Mexican.

"After that you'll be able to retire, live in a tiny village near the coast, sleep late, play with your children, catch a few fish, and spend your evenings drinking and enjoying
your friends."

And the moral of this story is: ......... Know where you're going in life... you may already be there.