I am a girl in shidduchim who is proudly looking for a learning boy. I understand the zechus of marrying and supporting a husband who spends his days immersed in limud HaTorah. But what are the sacrifices? As experienced shadchanim, can you describe, in brief, what sacrifices I may have to make in order to take on this important role? I’d like to be an “educated consumer” as I move forward.
Not to be overly glib, but the answer to this query lies in no small part within the hands of four future mechutanim, combined with the earning power of the young couple themselves. Meaning to say, making a go of it on $1,500 a month is vastly dissimilar to doing so on $4,000 a month, and yet, either budget may mandate foregoing the material in pursuit of the spiritual. One man’s castle is another man’s compromise, and it does not seem to me that the specifics of sacrificing for a life of dedication to talmud Torah can be minimized into some sort of fait accompli that is limited and confined to a precise and prearranged set of deliberate deprivations. Rather, it is a global matter of altogether accepting upon oneself that when push comes to shove, if learning more Torah each day, and doing so for as many years as possible, is pitted against endeavoring to purchase increased or enhanced physical objects, amenities, and experiences, Torah will always win the day.
For some, it could be the difference between owning a brand new car or a mere late model lease. For others, it could be the difference between a fully functional vehicle or one that is nearly coming apart at the seams (anyone who, as a child, was frequently poked in the leg by a steel wire protruding from its sheath of plastic piping following the edge of a uninterrupted three-person middle seat, while ducking underneath a thin layer of synthetic foam headliner that had long separated from the interior roof of their wood-paneled used station wagon, knows exactly what I am talking about here). And for yet others, it may be the difference between having a car at all and walking to the supermarket. For some, it may the difference between a starter home and a four-bedroom apartment; and for others, it may be the difference between sleeping two or three kids per room and having all the kids, however many there may be, sharing one cramped and crowded room. For some, it could be the difference between going out to eat once a year or once a month; and for others, it could be the difference between a meager degree of variety in weekday meals and eating exclusively tuna six days a week.
It should also be understood that true devotion to Torah study equally demands the surrendering of family time. I was recently told that as a single woman in shidduchim, Rebbetzin Elyashiv expressed unease with regard to how often she would be afforded the opportunity to share the company of her prospective husband. And her holy father, Reb Aryeh Levine, replied in his famously warm and compassionate fashion, “Don’t worry, I will spend time with you and I will talk to you.”
Granted, most of us are not destined to be Gedolei Yisroel, but the kollel life in its ideal form is not a nine-to-five, weekends are not two-day affairs, and there is no lengthy mid-semester break every winter and summer. Some yungeleit are able to carve out more of a family presence and offer more help with the maintenance of the household, and others less. Some kollel wives have myriad friends and relatives nearby to assist, and others must be an island unto themselves. It is never the same for any two families, but there must be advance awareness that three, four, or five sedorim a day will inherently and heavily impact the frequency and measure of togetherness that a husband and wife will possess, along with how regularly and how personally either parent can be involved with their children if he is tutoring during every break, and she is working 10-hour days, just to cover the bare necessities and put basic food on the table.
The particulars are irrelevant. What a person must ask themselves is simply the following. Whatever amount of money is available to me – be it from my own handiwork or that which has generously been provided by another source – am I willing to joyously bear the operose challenge of stretching those funds as threadlike as I can for the sake of buying another day, or another hour, or another minute of learning? If a person can honestly and confidently answer that question in the affirmative, I believe it fair to say that one is prepared to make whatever temporal relinquishments they are called upon to make, lehagdil Torah ulehaadirah.
May the Tzoreir Mayim Umanbiyah issue everlasting nourishment, in every conceivable sense, to all those who are moser lev v’nefesh lishtos tamid b’tzamah mimeimav.