Isaac Kaplan

"Is it any wonder I've got too much time on my hands?"

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The Death Of The Simple Life

I was thinking about my great-uncle Dave recently, and thinking about how people like that simply don't exist anymore.

Uncle Dave worked in the post office for many years, making a modest living. He retired many years ago, and supported by a pension, lives a simple life. He's got a small apartment, no car, and no luxuries. The only thing he's passionate about? Gemara. He wouldn't miss his shiur for the world, and even throughout the day, he's got jus gemara by his side.

And it's not like Uncle Dave is a big talmid chacham. He's not a moron, but intellectually I would say the guy is pretty smart, but nothing special.

The sad thing is, people like that simply don't exist anymore. Why? I think there are two huge factors at stake:

1) Anyone who's even remotely passionate about learning is pressured to learn all day, and feel like a shaygetz otherwise. And many, many people would appreciate learning much more if it were something they did for an hour or two per day, rather than something they're (hopefully) doing for 7-8 hrs a day. And that's a discussion in and of itself.

2) The bigger factor here? Money. The cost of living has gone up so much, as have the general standards of living. So to live even somewhat comfortably, you've gotta make a lot of money. And there's a lot of pressure for frum guys to go to law school or med school, where there's more potential for quick money.

How many guys out there would go for teaching? If any guy would work in the post office, he'd be laughed at. So you want a job with less pressure, so you can learn more? Then why don't you just go to Lakewood? And for the shidduch resume, forget it. If a guy wanted to be a plumber because the hours are flexible, well, good luck getting a girl to say "yes" to that.

And even a guy who's a good, sincere guy, has to stress over paying the bills. There's the physical stress of putting in heavy hours, and the emotional stress of thinking about it all the time. Such stress gets in the way of spiritual growth. Foremost on the guy's mind is money, how to make it, and how to survive day-to-day.

The only ones who have it easy here? The sons and sons-in-law of the richies. They work for their father or shver, and that stress of making a living isn't there. But so many of these people are more passionate about poker than learning, and growing up in a spoiled environment doesn't help the cause. And to be rich and spiritual? VERY hard to pull off.

What can I say. Times have changed. A lot.


Blogger Michelle said...

"And to be rich and spiritual? VERY hard to pull off."

That's what I've said too.

All I can tell you is --get ready to be attacked by shallow idiots who will illogically defend their empty lifestyles.

7:29 PM  

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