I’m a 20-year-old girl who has grown up in a home of Torah. My father is a hardworking person who learns during every minute he has available. We have a large family and my parents barely make ends meet. I want to marry a serious learner, but every boy asks if my parents will support. My parents are willing to take out a long-term loan to pay for this, but I don’t have the heart to let them fall into debt for me in this way. What do you recommend I do?
In reading your succinct, yet poignant, narrative, it is apparent to me that your parents have brilliantly instilled in you three core values – both through their chinuch, and through their actions. The value of Torah; the value of living modestly; and the value of money. Imparting even one of these sempiternal life principles is a feat in and of itself, and to have succeeded on all three fronts is truly remarkable. Kol hakavod, and yaasher kochachem.
With respect to the inquiry itself, there are two thoughts I would like to share. First, noble though it is to be concerned about one’s parents’ fiscal condition, I believe it is equally essential to be mindful that appreciation of sacrifice for the sake of giving primacy to Talmud Torah generally comes from the yiddeshe ethos which one’s parents have inculcated within them. Indeed, under these circumstances – which are certainly far from unique in this day and age – there are many parents who fairly and understandably inform their dating sons and daughters that support is simply infeasible, and that another option must be unearthed.
Conversely, when one’s parents volunteer to shoulder the monetary burden of funding a young family in kollel, regardless of the hardship that it may create, that is a tremendous bracha, and is deserving of immense respect and gratitude. Furthermore, given what has been shared, I do not imagine that we are talking about incurring the sort of momentous liability that would provide a lavish lifestyle. In fact, if I had to hazard a guess, I would envision a dual surrender here: a highly simplistic standard of living for the couple, and a manageable, albeit challenging, financial strain for the parents.
Accordingly, just as one may be content to live with less in order to dedicate themselves fully to a husband who will be spending his days and nights in the koslei beis hamedrash, one’s parents may have this same desire on their behalf. As such, if one’s parents willingly submit to being encumbered with additional debt – presumably in a responsible manner – so that they, too, can share in the zechus of the future learning taking place in their children’s household, why deprive them of this opportunity? Are they any less rightfully deserving of enduring forfeiture lmaan Toras Hashem?
To be clear, I am not setting forth an inflexible directive, nor am I belittling the distresses herein. Rather, I am merely pointing out the significance of reframing the offer provided, as it may not be one of a father and mother reluctantly or forcibly falling on their own sword, due to feelings of an inability to marry off a child. On the contrary, this parental gift may be one that is being extended whole-heartedly, and bestowed with profound love for one’s child, and tremendous ahavas HaTorah.
Second, though I do not doubt for even a second that each prospective shidduch thus far has deemed support a prerequisite for a date, nevertheless, there remain exceptions to this rule. And while they may be but the few and the proud, there are still young men out there who are solely interested in finding a wife and a family to honor their learning b’lev shaleim v’nefesh soveah, and with no strings attached.
There are yet men and women who understand such unwavering devotion to learning. It may sound crazy, but there are young families who assume financial responsibility on their own from day one. This may require herculean efforts, multiple side jobs assumed by each spouse that are inconveniently scheduled and detract from time spent together, and the humblest of living quarters, but it is achievable. Doing so lies squarely in the realm of the possible, and it is done.
Additionally, this path may call for a reevaluation of one’s previously perceived priorities pertaining to shidduchim. Perhaps there are ancillary and adscititious matters which were thought to carry import, but which, in reality, can be dispensed in order to find a fitting young man. So be it. That is the very nature and definition of conceding in order to attain loftier accomplishments which are at stake of being left unfulfilled.
All told, if this is the route that is chosen, one must make it patently clear to shadchanim what they are agreeable to, so that apt suggestions can be made and pursued. Such options are available, though they are typically less sought after, and I am confident that this will afford many shadchanim just the opening they need to redd shidduchim which were whilom considered off the table.
Lastly, and conceivably most importantly, I would strongly suggest a candid and comprehensive conversation with one’s parents on these topics. It is crucial that all involved are aware of these apprehensions, and arriving at a mutually satisfying conclusion – be it one of the above, or something else entirely – will aid enormously in ensuring that the process progresses in a healthy fashion. Provided that all parties are comfortable with the route selected, I would venture to say that securing a suitable solution lies firmly within reach.
May the Zan U’Mifarnes Lakol grant a surfeit of sustenance to us all, b’nachas, b’kavod, b’heter, ub’revach.