Religion Magazine

the Ship is Sinking

By Gldmeier @gldmeier
Mishpacha Magazine (Hebrew edition) has been running an initiative recently promoting new young couples in the Haredi community take on their own mortgages instead of burdening their parents with the mortgage. This would allow the current system of the parents chipping in for the down payment, but instead of the parents also then paying the mortgage, the couple would, Parents in the Haredi community are struggling in debt as they take in 3, 4, 5 or more mortgages to pay for their kids apartments. This would put the burden of 1 partial apartment on the couple owning the apartment and living in it, and less of the burden on the parents.
This past week's edition of Mishpacha had several interesting letters, three letters out of many, to the editor in response to this initiative, and I thought it was worth sharing these three letters with you. The three are from three different perspectives and sides of the issue.
Letter 1:
I'll begin with introductions, out of courtesy.
I am married, BH, to a talented and learned husband. We are both in our 50s. We have married off 5 children and have 2 more still at home.
When we married, there was money. It is not pleasant to say, but we had money from the German reparations. That money helped our parents get us on our feet. We got an apartment near my parents, I found a job as a teacher and my husband learned for some years in kollel and then became a "Ram" (ie a rebbi/teacher) in a known yeshiva.
For 20 years we lived in a cloud. In a dream. We earned some nice money. It was enough to save a little bit. We thought we were smart and successful.
Then we married off one daughter.
Then the second.
Then the third child, a son. Then the fourth, another daughter.
They were all loved, successful and smart. Each one came with a mountain of debt and obligations.
The money we had saved was barely enough for the down payment of our eldest daughter. For the second daughter we had to borrow money, a horrible thing and something not recommended to do. This concluded with us selling our beautiful apartment. We have moved between small rental apartments since then. The third child was a son, but he had some health problems so we had to take on ourselves more obligations than normally done. Today, with the fourth, there is no more money. It is all gone.There are no more sources of funding for us. That's it.
We are paying 4 mortgages, plus rent. We start each month about 20,000nis in overdraft.
I work at 3 jobs. If the students I teach in the morning would know that in the evening I am working a shift at a far away nursing home, they would faint.
My husband is broken. He learns privately with students from morning to night. He has no satisfaction. He is embittered and grumpy. He feels no self-worth  and also feels that he cannot support his children as others supported him. Our marriage has gotten very shaky. When we are alone for Shabbos we do not buy fish and meat, though when our children come we buy 2 types of fish and 3 types of meat!
And I am frightened of the day when we will start talking about shidduchim for our next child!
Forgive me Hashem, but I fear that moment!
I am writing in tears. My husband is a tzaddik, he knows I am writing this and he is praying that someone will read it and do something about it. Do something!
Why in Belz is it legitimate to buy an apartment in har Yona for 600,000nis, in Zanz to buy an apartment in Tzfat for 500k, and Gur in Arad for 300k, and Vizshnitz in Afula for I dont know how much? Why by the sefardim is it ok to get married and live in Netivot and in Yerucham, and only by us, the "quality", if you buy an apartment in Bet Shemesh and Modiin Ilit - for 1.1 million shekels - you feel like you are compromising??!
I am certain that by the hassidim they also have problems with this issue, but by us it is a catastrophe!
Yasher Koach for bringing the issue to the forefront, and Hashem should help all of us.

a truly heartfelt letter, and I felt bad for the situation they find themselves in due to community and societal norms
Letter 2:
It is very easy for you to write that the children should take the mortgage payments upon themselves. But forgive us for asking: how exactly are to pay these payments? Why do you think that a young couple getting married at the age of twenty-something and the system sends them to learn in kollel and his wife to work at a tiny salaried job, can possibly consider paying mortgage payments?
If there are stories about people earning a good living, and they still let the shver pay the mortgage, they should be ashamed! but the rest of us - what is even the suggestion that we should pay?
I ask for forgiveness and will be a bit extreme: who educated us in this way that we just want to learn and go to kollel? Was it not our father? Of course it was! Our entire lives our fathers have put into our heads that their desire is just that we should build houses of torah. And now suddenly you are sending us to pay mortgages? Maybe it is difficult for the parents, but this is what they want! That we should sit and learn! Not that we should be looking for other things! This is a complete disconnect! This is not connected at all to our lives!
I am not saying this is ok in relation to our parents. But what at all is the thought that these young people will be able to pay? How exactly? Do we have some secret parnassa that brings us money? No, not at all. We sit in kollel exactly as our parents dreamed for us. As they educated us. We are the good results of our education. For the ones that left, nobody pays their mortgage.  So now that we have done everything they wanted from us, people are coming with complaints.
I dont understand it!

wow. talk about entitled! this hurt to read, but a different type of hurt than the way the first letter hurt. In the first letter they are suffering for everything they have tried to do for their kids. It hurt to see how much they are suffering because of it. In the second letter he is saying that this is their fault, this is what they want, and leave me alone. This hurt from the chutzpah and lack of care for the predicament the parents find themselves in - on their behalf! It is their problem, let them deal with it!
This is clearly the result of a bad system. Young people getting married with no plans for parnassa demanding or needing apartments, expensive no matter how much or little it might cost, with having to do this for multiple children - as each family has 5-8 children, or more, and God forbid talk about having less kids or having kids despite not being able to afford food for them let alone apartments and weddings. God forbid letting them build houses of torah while also having a way to support his/her own family. Maybe they should not get married so young with no ability to pay rent or a mortgage, or at least a plan to be able to do so soon.
It is not really the kids fault. This is the way he was raised. This is the way the system he grew up in works. The system failed him, and the system failed his parents, just as the system fails thousands of other people. Systems were not put in place to help individuals or to solve the problems of individuals, but to sustain the systems and the people and ideals behind them. The people who suffer from these systems are causalities of war. This young man isnt wrong - he and his wife are barely earning enough for the electricity bill, the phones, and the food, so from where should he suddenly be able to pay a mortgage? But he also is not right. And he should have some compassion for his struggling parents. He should recognize what they are going through - for him.
Letter 3:
I am the person you are writing about. I am one like this that makes a little bit of money but still my father pays my mortgage.
Maybe it is not right, but I want to explain myself.
I started out dealing with being agents and things like that. Thank God I had some success here and there. Nothing major but some money was coming in.
I save a bit, I invested a bit in my home by doing some critical and necessary renovations and fixes. Today, thank God, I have some income from this work.
I could go to my father and tell him that I am taking the 2500nis mortgage payments upon myself and I could tell my shver that he no longer needs to give us the 500nis monthly for food. And then I'll be in a situation in which all my income is being spent on day to day expenses.
And then I will not have any great chances.
I very much want to take the burden off of my parents.But before I do I need to earn enough that in another 15 years when my children want to get married I will be able to give them.
I think this is the hishtadlus I am obligated in.
I am not even sure what to say about this letter. Do their parents think they are supporting someone in kollel? Do they know they are supporting someone who is working but wants to save in addition to what he is earning? Are his parents capable of paying the mortgage and monthly expenses and ok with it? Are they being swindled thinking they are paying for a child learning in kollel? It seems unclear, though it leans, in my mind, to him supposedly being in kollel. Otherwise what is the relevance? If he is working and his parents want to help him out anyway, that has nothing to do with the situation being discussed by Mishpacha Magazine and the various writers on the subject. His parents are welcome to help him as much or as little as they want and are not part of the peer pressure system. If they help beyond their means, they have nobody to blame but themselves and can feel free to stop at any time. If they can afford it and want to, that is their business. So I suspect he is swindling his parents working, taking their money for learning, and using it to save for the future. And because he is writing on the topic, I suspect they are struggling with these payments, but he has justified them as necessary for his future. He might be shrewd but if that is what he is doing, I rue the day when his scam will be uncovered. Or maybe it is all innocent and they are simply trying to help out their kids and help them for the long term with their future and grandchildren in mind, and there is nothing wrong with that.
As I wrote above, the system is failing. It is failing itself and it is failing the people in it. The parents can't handle the struggle and burden of buying apartments for 5, 8, 10 kids and then also helping support them. The kids have become entitled and have no plan for themselves, getting married young with no financial options other than to take from the parents for the long term. The Mishpacha initiative is good to lessen the load somewhat from the struggling parents, but the ship is sinking. Having 6, 7, 8 or 10 kids in this generation when the parents and grandparents also spent their entire lives in kollel or teaching is not the same as the previous generations when people had 2 or 4 kids and the parents were working people. The ship is sinking.
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