I am 43 years old. I work as an executive in an international company. This entails long hours, travel and constant pressure. I am out of the house most days from 5:30am till 9:30pm. I don’t enjoy the business, or the corporate politics. My wife works out of the house from 10am-3pm. We are blessed with six children. We are both constantly tired and under stress.
Jonathan Rosenblum claims that “nearly every mechanech in Israel who deals with American students comments on …the too great materialism.” I regret that the mechanchim didn’t meet my two daughters who didn’t go to Israel to study, despite our desire, because $25,000 for a year in seminary is simply unaffordable. Rabbi Shneur Aisenstark sarcastically discusses the “need” for two cars. I have one 2004 Chevy Venture with 130,000 miles. I haven’t taken a vacation in over nine years (yes, I work on chol hamoed).
I married off my daughter about a year ago, and the wedding night cost me almost $20,000. A few weeks after the wedding, my eight-year-old daughter came home crying that her friends said the chasuna was “nebby” (incidentally, her friend is the daughter of two mechanchim).
I don’t spend money on gourmet food, hobbies, designer clothing, liquor, etc. I pay federal, state and city taxes of about $50,000 a year. Tuition and summer camps average $45-50,000 a year, health insurance, deductibles, dentist, etc. $30,000, mortgage, real estate taxes and insurance $35,000 (we have a condominium, not a house).
Interaction with institutions in the community usually leaves me feeling exploited and cynical. The mosdos and tuition boards demand ever-increasing fees with ever-increasing attitude. My son, who is studying in an elite Yeshiva, was teased by his friends because his father is a baal habayis. Shadchanim call up and say things like I have a great boy, but first I want you to realize they turned down $1,500 a month just last week (Do I hear $1,750?).
I feel guilty that despite being blessed with healthy, accomplished children, a good marriage and a decent job, I feel discontent with my day-to-day life. I am working harder and harder just to keep afloat. I have no time or strength to think about spiritual growth or finding a connection to Hashem – and I am sure that I am not alone.
Brooklyn, New York