Let me explain. I come from a family of extremely limited means; my parents have no way of paying for my future wedding and they don’t have the ability to support me once I get married. This has not taken me away from learning – I continue to attend every seder and have not missed one since I came to BMG and I plan to continue in my learning for as long as possible once I get married.
But here’s my “big mistake,” as yet another shadchan told me on Thursday: because my parents have so little money, I decided that during my free time, instead of hanging out with friends or whatever, I would get a small job to bring in some income and eventually use that money to help pay for my wedding and household expenses when I am in kollel.
I have not tried hiding this – why should I? As far as I’m concerned it’s a smart and responsible decision. I am very open with shadchanim and prospective dates that I have a small, part-time job that doesn’t interfere with my sedorim.
But, so far, every shadchan I’ve spoken to said that I’m hurting myself.
“What girl looking for a learning guy wants someone who is working?” one shadchan said to me.
“I understand why you’re doing this but think of the impression you’re making on the families looking into you,” another said.
The number of negative comments I’ve gotten for this sensible decision are endless. The number of girls who have been redt to me has dwindled and more than one shadchan has openly told me to essentially “shape up” or forget about getting more dates.
I don’t care. I know that I am doing the right thing and I know the right girl will come along and see past my decision to bring in a small amount of income, or even better, appreciate that I am being responsible and forward-thinking. I won’t let others’ negative comments knock me down.
But it still hurts. I’m not wealthy, my family isn’t wealthy – far from it. How do all these shadchanim and girls looking exclusively for a guy who has no income-producing ability square the idea of wanting a full-time learning guy with the need to pay rent every month? Or grocery bills? Or diapers? Why would you turn your nose up at someone who is trying to make it work, even while he is learning full time? How does that make any sense?
I know that I’m not the only one that finds myself having to make a tough choice. There are many other bochurim who don’t have the support necessary to allow them to get married and stay in kollel for any considerable length of time without getting a job. They are all being hurt by this twisted mindset.
A wise man once said, “Perfect is the enemy of good.” In other words, obsessing with perfection and criticizing the imperfect for not living up to certain ideals is ultimately a bad thing.
I feel that is exactly what is happening to me. I am in a “market” which is geared towards perfection; good isn’t good enough. If you’re not perfect, if you have the slightest, most minor blemish, or in my case, if you are doing something that is not considered 100 percent ideal, you’re thrown directly into the trash pile.
Why is it this way? Why can’t our society understand that people make their own choices based on what is best for them and that not everyone fits into the exact same mold as everyone else? Why are we tearing down people because they are making a smart, good, wholesome, responsible decision? Obsession with idealism isn’t a good thing, it’s cultic.
Editor’s note: Photo does not depict the bachur in the above letter
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