Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Show me the money

From an article that appeared a few days ago on Ynet:

How much would you pay for a groom?

The ultra-Orthodox world is in uproar, this time it’s not because of gays: Parents of unmarried young women are refusing to pay for fancy apartments, five-star weddings in order to get a groom from prestigious yeshiva.
Chaim Levinson
Published: 01.14.07, 20:19

...A daughter’s wedding should be one of the happiest events in a parent’s life, but it’s become a nightmare because sought-after grooms are demanding that the bride’s parents buy the couple an apartment, and preferably in a desirable location. “It’s a known thing in our community that you have to give the whole package to get a good groom, that is, to pay for the entire wedding and buy an apartment and furniture," Says A. “My two older daughters have husbands from good yeshivas, and each of them got two thirds of an apartment from me. "I spent my entire savings on that, I took a second mortgage and loans. Now I need to buy at least half an apartment for my third daughter, and I have no money. My daughter wanted a God-fearing guy, not a guy who works (as opposed to studying fulltime in yeshiva). That’s a problem. How will I pay back more loans? And what will remain for my younger daughters?”

...Among the Lithuanians the price is based on how smart and how good a student the groom is. Among the Hassidim, the price is based on the groom’s family’s prestige. When families started going bankrupt there was an outcry against the heads of yeshivas and the grooms who make excessive demands.

...In order to finance all of this, parents take out many loans and insane mortgages. The loans have to be paid back, and the interest is high, so the parents make use of free loan societies. But even they have to be paid back, so the parents take more loans from other free loan societies. Another solution is to go to the U.S. or Britain and ask for money from wealthy Jews. Before the wedding the terms of the match are negotiated. The ultra-Orthodox Bakehillah newspaper, which writes a lot on this issue, has published the price list for a groom. For a prodigy in a prestigious yeshiva such as Kol Torah or Hevron in Jerusalem, Or Yisrael in Petach Tikvah or Bet Matityahu in Bnei Brak, you have to pay for the whole package.

...“Sometimes you have several offers, and the money the family offers is definitely a significant factor in the decision because then you can sit in yeshiva and study the way you ought to,” says D., a student in a prestigious Jerusalem yeshiva. It’s a market thing, supply and demand. Of course you have to pay for a high-quality groom. At our yeshiva we’re the elite, and people are prepared to pay a lot for a groom.”
Why do the bride’s parents have to take a loan in order to pay for your apartment?
“It’s painful to see parents taking loans, but in order to sit and study in a yeshiva you need funding. You can’t buy an apartment on a yeshiva student’s salary. That’s why the parents need to take money. It’s a wheel that can’t be stopped.”

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If you thought arranged marriages and dowries went out with the dark ages, you're wrong. The practice is still alive and well in the cheredi communities, and it's still barbaric and ridiculous.

It also explains the extremely high incidence of wife and child abuse, because these young men have no real love or attachment to their wives or offspring - it's clear from the above quote that these young men have been brainwashed by their cult to only value sitting in yeshiva all day. They have no concept of any responsibility to support their family, or even take their family's needs into any sort of consideration. Their world is selfish and lazy, and entirely ego-centered. The consequences of their actions on others means nothing to them. Their inflated sense of entitlement and superiority is dangerous and they have an entirely unreal and imaginary idea of how the world really works.

The question is whether or not this wheel can, in fact, be stopped - and it can. It is clear that this needs to be a grass roots rebellion, however, since the article goes on to describe how the rosh yeshivas actually command the young men to keep doing this irresponsible practice because it increases the prestige of them and their yeshivas. It makes it appear that all their students are wealthy and successful - when they're not. It's false advertising. The rabbis want it to look to outsiders that God has blessed them and their students for wasting their lives sitting on their rear-ends doing nothing to contribute to the community's economy or their own family's welfare. This practice makes it appear that they are living the way God wants them to and has taken care of all their needs.

But God has done no such thing. God has not endorsed or approved their actions, and their facade of success comes from extortion, plain and simple. This cancer eats at the young men and their marriages, because nothing based on lies and deceit has a foundation that can be built upon. When their marriages and financial situations fail to meet their unrealistic expectations, their egos and inflated sense of entitlement drives them to turn to violence, or to adultery, drugs, porn, and whatever other diversion from their miserable, unfulfilled lives they can find.

One father above I think now realizes the error of his ways when he taught his daughters that men with market-rate employment and careers were not the types of husbands that they should aspire to wed. But it's too late, of course. Now if he withdraws support for yeshiva-student grooms for his other daughters, he will be accused of falling from the faith and spreading "un-orthodox" heresy. It's a trap from which he now cannot extricate himself without a major upheaval of his life and community. And if he tries, the result will be ostracization, threats, and even violence against him and his family, because the rabbis brook no dissent or competing ideas. The fact that the parents cannot afford this medieval and barbaric custom of buying a marriage for their daughters does not matter. The Rabbis benefit from the money these poor parents are having to fork over, so there's no chance they will willingly give it up.

So the only way this is going to stop is when parents tell their daughters matter-of-factly the economic realities of life, and stop spreading the lie that God approves of and blesses a man who refuses to support his family. The only way this is going to stop is when parents start insisting on young men with a job for their daughters. The only way this is going to stop is when the orthodox society realizes it is the duty of both sets of parents to equally support young families, and not just the bride's side of the family. And if the grooms and their parents will not conform to these requirements, then let them remain unmarried.

And last but not least, how rich your parents are is not, and has never been, the basis of a successful marriage relationship. That comes only from mutual respect and trust, which grows to love when consideration and devotion are demonstrated by both parties. Without this real and enduring basis for a relationship, a marriage will never, ever be fulfilling. And when a man gleefully impoverishes his bride's family and gives no consideration whatsoever to his wife and children's welfare and support, no one is ever going to respect him, especially not his wife - even if he ends up being the greatest scholar of his generation, which frankly, I don't see any real danger of that coming from modern yeshivas.

As long as the cheredi worship money more than God's commandments (which Pirkei Avos clearly shows being for a man to learn a trade and earn a living) then the yeshiva culture is not just flawed but perverted and disgusting. Godly marriages cannot happen in this culture. If you want God's blessing on your life, you will never find it here, class. This culture is sick beyond repair.

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