His Business Is Failing, But He Has 5 Sons-In-Law In Kollel

stressed outThere is a very fine person in our shul who is always learning, helping others, and supporting himself with his work. He was successful many years in business, but lately his business has declined considerably. He has 5 married daughters, each of them being fully supported by him. That means some of them have been married for 10+ years and are receiving more than 75% of their annual income from him. He continues to do provide for them, although it is a great strain for him. Plus there are more children coming up for marriage in the near future. His sons-in-law have a choice. They can either continue taking the money, realizing that although it is coming with great difficulty, he is somehow managing to dig up the funds. And after all, isn’t this what he accepted upon himself? Or they can realize what a burden this must be to him, and make immediate plans to relieve him from this unbearable load. Instead of one person supporting 5 families + his own, each of them can take responsibility for their own family, allowing him to focus on getting his finances back in shape.

As an outsider, most people would of course say that the second way is right. However, when you are the son in law faced with this decision, it’s all too easy to default to the first choice. Who in their right mind would willingly tear apart their lives and force themselves into the unknown, just for the sake of someone else? It takes a real man, a caring person, a mentsch, to see the truth and do the right thing.

As parents, how would you want your children to decide? Most people would want their sons in law to do the right thing, as uncomfortable as it may be. If so, use this scenario as a measuring stick when your children are in shidduchim. Is this boy someone who would willingly forgo his support and lifestyle should things become too hard for you to manage? If the answer is no, perhaps it would be wise to give him a pass, even if he just so happens to be the biggest lamdan in Lakewood. Kollelguy

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52 COMMENTS

  1. As a parent, I would hope that I have educated my children that an open honest relationship is crucial. That being the case, I would sit them down and TALK to them and wean them off my support over a few months.
    The responsibility is on the parent who is providing the support to tell the children, not on the children who for all intents and purposes stay out of their parents/in laws business, as they should stay out of it.

  2. That’s the problem!!! Today everybody thinks that its coming to them! There is nothing wrong with picking himself up and getting a job. Unfortunately there are to many people today that need to do that and don’t! Good luck!

  3. this story is pure fiction…and btw there are many fathers and in laws supporting their working children too don’t blame it on kollel.

  4. Why don’t you just speak to his sons in laws. Why did you have to write a letter to the scoop.If my neighbor left his headlights on I would say excuse me you left your headlights on. I wouldn’t run to the internet and say gevalt we have to stop leaving our headlights on

  5. I warned the shver to not gamble with his money. Had he just been happy with what he had and not gambled on new ventures he could have lived nicely and supported his kids. But he wanted to be really rich. There is always someone richer than you. And that is what brings ones downfall. Aizehu ashir hasoimaiach bchelko. Because in the end if you keep trying to get richer and richer you end up poor. Now I hope his son in laws are mentchen enough not to blame him, and will pitch in to help him regain a level of comfort to which his family is accustomed to.

  6. So far I have 4 sons in kollel. They did not marry into wealth. We help them a very little bit, that’;s all we can afford. We also started out in kollel without parental support. When the need arouse, my husband went to work. I assume my children will do whatever they have to without expecting parental help. They appreciate greatly whatever they get, but, they don’t feel it’s coming to them. By the way my sons are all masmidim, not just in kollel for the ride.

  7. This sad story is a symptom of a system that was never intended to turn out this way, and is headed for disaster unless drastic changes are made. The question is who has the leadership abilities to make these changes before its too late.

  8. I’m not sure why one has the ‘obligation’ to support married children. If they NEED help, and the parent IS ABLE & WILLING, that’s one thing, but if he is still covering tuituions etc…

  9. What job is the kollel yungerman son-in-law qualified for? The same economy that caused a decline in the father-in-law’s business makes it difficult to find employment even for experienced and qualified job-seekers. Without monetary capital or marketable skills it would seem highly unlikely that the son-in-law can make a meaningful contribution to his family’s financial needs, let alone, relieve his father-in-law of the burden entirely. It is not merely a question of the son-in-law’s willingness to “tear apart their lives and force themselves into the unknown”, but rather their ability to do anything to alleviate the burden in the short term. While it is truly an unfortunate situation, and some long-term plan of action should certainly be formulated and implemented, I would not place the blame solely on the son-in-law. A father-in-law, who accepts upon himself complete support and does not require his son-in-law to formulate a plan for acquiring a means of relieving him of that burden in the eventuality of his inability to continue that support, is equally to blame. The father-in-law was in a far better position to foresee the possibility of his business’s decline than the son-in-law. The question that needs to be asked of a prospective shidduch is not would he “willingly forgo his support and lifestyle should things become too hard for you to manage?”, but rather, how would you successfully take over that responsibility and how much time would you need to implement that plan? It is not realistic to expect someone married ten years with five children to just wake up one morning and instead of going to yeshiva go out and earn enough money to support his family.

  10. it is very nice to say let these guys go get a job. The problem is in this economy THERE ARE NO JOBS. I know. I used to work for a living and after being lay-ed off, can’t find a job. I have 10 kids (bilee ayin hora) to support and don’t have a rich shveir to support me. What exactly entitles these guys to drain their shveir till he drops??? Let them become cashiers in a goyish store for $8/hour and see what happens next.

  11. By the way my sons are all masmidim, not just in kollel for the ride.
    ==============================================
    how do u know this? did they tell you so?

  12. There are so many jobs in the construction industry. They pay $7-10 per hour. Go stand on Clifton, you will get a job in a jiffy.

    Beneath your dignity????

    Ok, so instead give your shver a heart attack.

  13. He should simply tell them he cant afford to support them anymore! Getting a job and actually supporting your own wife and kids is not somthing extra, getting supported and learning in kollel the first years of your marriage is.

    If you are not mature enough to handle the discomfort of going out and trying to do evreything you can to support yourself and your family you should have never got married in the first place.

  14. I am so grateful that my parents live paycheck to paycheck and cannot support me. This has forced me to be responsible, get an education and a career. I am proud that I am not reliant on someone else to pay for my bread and milk. Further more, I send my parents checks every week to help with the bills, and not the other way around. I am filled with pride when I have a chance to pay them back for the 20 years that they supported me, instead of insisting they keep paying for my bills until they pass from this world.

  15. You know what your problem is? You fail to realIze the pain your parents have receiving the check from you and the joy the aforementioned shver has in supporting torah. Nobody is forcing him to do it. My shver did not have the means to continue supporting me he let me know and I went to work. Simple.

  16. The satisfaction one feels while utilizing his time and energy for NITZCHIUS while the rest of the world chase their tails in vain overcomes the discomfort of being supported or of not having to support. Chtof chatof!

  17. It’s more HOW MUCH support is being given these days! About a month ago I read an article about R’ Chaim Kanievski Shlita who said that “it has become a mageifa” so much so that a “Yom Tefila should be declared”. He further said how in his days they got a “roof to put over their heads and that was it if they were lucky. What is given and expected today is not the Torah way” This is coming from our Gadol Hador! But of course we here in the states know better. I have an uncle who is literally struggling to continue suporting his son in-laws but he will not stop because of the pressures of society. I promise I fear for his health every day!

    And to #15
    They can become cashiers in a JEWISH store for about $12+ an hour at least. When I went to work I struggled greatly and was living more off of my home equity line. My wife was right when she said “my father AND you are both working so why should he struggle and you not”????

  18. there are plenty of cashier front desk jobs and manager jobs yeshiva administrative jobs driving jobs that require no experiance or very easy training and all different other types of jobs in lakewood brooklyn etc that start at $15 an hour plus look in this weeks bp classifieds there ae over 25 jobs the same with the yated and jewish press so maybe you will say i cant support my family on $15 an hour well guess what $15 an hour is better than $0 an hour and if you make $15 an hour that will mean less money taken from your shver or tzedakah

  19. Yungerlady:

    I’d like to hear you say the same thing when you are supporting your children Im Yirtzeh Hashem. I hope you’ll be extremely wealthy and don’t have any issues whatsoever but your statement is 100% incorrect. People give either because they have what to give OR because they don’t see a choice. MANY people give simply because they are afraid they won’t find a shidduch for their daughter. It’s no secret the market is tough out there.

  20. If they would want to marrie of their daughters to amei haretz they can easily. Thing is most of us realize that our tachlis is either to be a talmid chacham or at least be meisi benosov letalmidei chachomim, if not that… Loma lanu chayim??!

  21. To suggest that the son-in-law take a job lacking any potential for eventually providing him with the means to support his famiy seems extremely shortsighted. A minimum-wage job would only serve to utterly demoralize him while providing minimal relief to his finacial situation. It would be far more productive to explore job-training options that can be financed through student loans or to devise a business plan and search for investors. But to exhaust all his energy working at a dead-end job just to minimize the amount of financial assistance necessary seems foolish. It doesn’t mean he has a right to pressure his father-in-law into going into debt to support him. On the contrary, he should be assumng any debt necessary while figuring out a way to establish himself. However, I believe it would be counter-productive to belittle the son-in-law into taking a job that is beneath his dignity. A person is obligated to give tzedakah commensurate with the lifestyle the poor person was accustomed to live. Why? Let the poor person get used to a more modest lifestyle. Surely with time he will become accustomed to it and it would lighten the financial burden on the community. It is because we need to preserve the dignity of the poor person to enable him to recover his financial situation. To require him to sacrifice his self-esteem would be be requiring him to sacrifice his ability to re-establish himself. The son-in-law in this scenario can not be faulted for becoming accustomed to living with dignity. We must preserve that dignity in attempting to assist him in finding a means to support his family.

  22. to Anonymous #34,

    Thank you for compliment. I had some more thoughts on the subject but they did not pass moderation. I am not sure why.

  23. To Yungerlady:

    You seem very idealistic. That’s very nice and admirable. I am too,I am ALSO realistic. Yes Torah and it’s support is the MOST beautiful thing and most important thing. That is what sustains the world. However you say …..”Loma lanu chayim??! Can I ask a dumb question? Lama lanu Maysim?!? You and I know that what you are saying is not true in MANY and way too many cases. So why make childish comments? Bottom line-there are way too many people that struggle financially to support their children and in many cases their children are in Yeshiva for “the ride” in the words of another commenter. Torah support is wonderful but stop talking like a 16 year old unless that is your age.

  24. To Yungerlady:

    Just to make sure you don’t get me wrong-I advocate and admire those that support their children in Yeshiva but to pretend that it’s all just a matter of “wanting to” support is being foolish and avoiding the reality.

  25. To Anonymous #37,

    I appreciate your vote of confidence. Why do you assume I don’t? (I don’t, but I am curious.)

  26. Dear formerkollelguy, I am very happy that I managed to bring out of you your real feelings, I knew it was only a matter of time before even you would start with the “riding it out comments”.. My point is that you do not share the same chashivus and respect for these yungerlite as me, this is the reason for your negativity. My point is, if you can’t do what they are doing (for whatever reason) at least don’t try to put them down. My comment is not directed at you personaly, rather to the writer of this “readers scoop”

  27. My response was b4 I saw comment 39, please realize that I am refering to the klall of ppl who constantly find ways to criticize kollel yungerlite, even in yeshivishe newspapers

  28. I find it interesting that this topic was brought up now. In yesterday’s daf R’ Elazar said,” kol she’eno mehane talmidei chachamim minechasav, eno roeh siman beracha leolam.” Anyone who does not benefit talmidei chachamim from his possessions will not see a siman beracha from his possessions. I think it may be possible that the “shver” only has the ability to support because he supports.

  29. Editor my “response” was missplaced I’m sure the oilem is waiting breathlessly for you to find it and post it in it’s proper place. Do the right thing!

  30. To TLS Moderator,

    If you do not alow my comments to post then I will cease to comment. I think we both understand that this is a commensal relationship. (No need to allow this comment to post if you allow my pevious one through.)

  31. while i feel for this man, the truth is he is responsible for his difficult position. he obviously gave this children the expectation that they would be supported by him, so they expect it.
    Is he too proud to “admit” that his finances dont allow him to help out anymore?

    he should be honest with his kids – they cant read his mind!
    sit them down and tell the the situation. they are big kids. presumably with all the torah and middos they absorbed in their years of kollel, they will say thanks, dad for all you support, and go on and fend for themselves.
    it is wonderful that he did this when he had the means but if he gives himself a heart attack, he is not doing his kids a favor either. they are better off with a live father, even one that doesnt shell out gelt.

  32. It’s a good thing I read this today. A shadchan just offered a shidduch for my son with the father offering support for life…Should I go for it? (Just kidding! I turned the shidduch down. My son is a serious learner, but I hope he marries a girl who works and has money put away-not just back from Sem. And, both sets of parents will help out as long as it works. But, if they earn the money on their own, hopefully, their choice of life style will be toned down.)

  33. we need and are begging the litvishe gedoilem to make well thought out wedding takonos that include Kolel guidelines and realistic kolel exit strategies mir kenshoin nisht oishalten

  34. there are many serious learners who manage to learn for over 9 hours a day, and work regular jobs at the same time. I personally know one yungerman who is in bais hamedrash every single day at 4 am. he works from 9-5 and then is back in the bais hamedrash untill 10 pm (minus supper). he has a strong kinyan on almost any sugya in shas, and his goal in life is torah, his work a medium. although he may not be the biggest “baal kishron”, he seems to outdo a lot of BMG yungerleit he comes in contact with.

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