Dear Rabbi and Shira,
I am dating a guy who wants to be a rabbi. He’s a smart individual with sterling middis and a big heart. At the beginning of our relationship, I thought the concept of dating a future rabbi would be great. I love the idea of an open home and taking care of people. By nature I am a very nurturing and loving person . Now that we are entering the next stage, the engagement talks , my parents are opening up that they are not happy with this choice. They are worried we won’t be able to pay our bills and they are not in a financial position to help as my dad is also a Rav.
Although my family did struggle financially, I thought I was ready for the mesiras nefesh involved in klei kodesh. But now I’m not sure.
I was wondering if you could help put things into perspective. Maybe this is not a smart idea?
Does money come before love?
A Rabbi’s Daughter
Dear Rabbi’s Daughter,
Thanks for writing in.
There are so many aspects to your question.
In terms of your parents, discuss with them their concerns and worries. Brainstorm with them how they got through the different challenges in their lives, and what difficulites they are anticipating for you.
It is true that many rabbinc families struggle. What are your expectations? What are your needs and what can you honestly live without. Speak with your future chassan about your concerns. Start working out a budget together and figure out together what your needs, expenses and luxuries will be. Don’t forget to include things like transportation, rent, food, utilities. Discuss possible sources of funding, including different jobs while in rabbinical school, family assistance (which might or might not be present) and savings. What is your future career aspiration? How much money will it make? What hours will it involve, and to what degree will you need child care?
Begin discussing with your future chasan which rabbnic venues and positions he’s interested in. Some positions come with a house, benefits and a salary. Others are a part time salary with full time obligations. Is there a placement office in his Yeshiva which helps with finding jobs and negotiating contracts? Yeshiva University, Young Israel and other organizations have offices which can be of assistance.
Your future husband might find that he can have another job besides his rabbinic post. Rabbis oftentimes are teachers, therapists, lawyers, professors, accountants and sometimes even doctors.
Another consideration is where you’d like to live and raise your family. There are different pluses and minuses to the location where you will serve. If you choose to serve outside of the tri-state area, housing costs may be lower, but tuition and kosher food might be higher. You might find different standards of education for your children, and might not see your families as often.
There are many facets to this question, and “making it work” is not impossible. Wishing you lots of Hatzlacha.
Rabbi Reuven and Shira Boshnack