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Isn't it pretty?

Monday, August 15, 2005

Lakewood Reflections

Lots has happened since my last post. Today I start a new job - and I am sorry to disappoint all my commentors, but I went for the money. There was just too big a difference in salary between the two positions (they were both in the city, so commute was not an issue), and the truth is, I decided it would be nice to be comfortable for a while. I won't be in this job forever, it is just to get me through school, and the position I chose will actually be less hours and more flexible with my schedule, so I went for it. Wish me luck! I spent the weekend in Lakewood with a friend and her family. It was an interesting experience. My friend is Sephardi, and she has quite a few loud, rambunxious brothers, which made me miss mine quite a bit. I slept better than I had the entire previous week, got all rested up for the big week ahead. While I was in Lakewood, I visited another friend of mine who lives there. In contrast to the friend I stayed with, this other friend is pretty characteristic of the typical Lakewood wife. Her husband learns in the kollel, she has two babies crawling around, they live in the basement of a house. They have very little money, but I guess they are living a Torah-true lifestyle. The problem is, I look at them, and just don't see them being especially happy. They kind of manage to get by, I think with some help from their parents, but I feel their lifestyle is more ascetic than merely simple. Their marriage, which I initially thought wonderful, has run to being more perfunct and devoid of excessive interaction. They are both exhausted from their various activities (baby-chasing for her, learning Torah until wee hours for him), and don't have time for much else. Their lives have become such that they don't have that much to share with each other, besides diapers. Maybe I am looking at it with the wrong view. I am not a big proponent of every married man learning in kollel for years upon years. I don't believe you have to live in luxury, but I think there is something to earning some kind of parnossah and supporting a family. I think parenting is a joint effort, and that children should see their fathers more than just on Shabbos. And as valuable as learning Torah is, I don't think it is a substitute for living life. I think the two go together. I want my friend to be happy. Maybe I am wrong, and she really is; maybe I am projecting how I think I would feel upon her. But I want more.

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