Why We Frum Yidden Have it So Hard (Financially)


chareidimBy K. G.

Often times, we wistfully wish we didn’t have to shoulder the tremendously high expenses of raising a frum family in the US today. Large families, kosher food, tuition, bar mitzvahs, chasunahs, tzniusdike clothing, shaitels, summer camps, shul memberships, mikvah, etc. all add up. If we compare ourselves to an average US family, our cost of living must be at least double or triple the national average.

Add to that the fact that we get a late start to our careers because of the time (well) spent in kollel, and that we don’t go to college while we are bochurim, which causes our incomes to be lower, at least at the outset.

Yes, we are at a great disadvantage, and even without any special circumstances we struggle much more than most everyone else.

It could be that the main reason for this setup is due to the way Hashem issues judgment. The ultimate reward is in the World to Come, not down here. However, those who are wicked will not experience the reward in the next world, and instead they will suffer eternal punishment. So down here they receive reward for the few good deeds they have done. Of course, it is far better to get rewarded in the World to Come for the good deeds one does and to suffer here in this world for one’s wrongdoings.

Accordingly, it follows that we, frum Yidden, will suffer far greater in this world compared to the other nations. Since it is impossible for the nations not to have done some good deeds and likewise impossible for the Yidden not to have sinned, the nations must be rewarded for their good here in this world, while the Yidden have to be cleansed from their evil here in this world (see Ramban at the beginning of Shaar HaGmul).

Until recently, Yidden suffered physical torment from the nations – inquisitions, holocausts, Soviet oppression, pogroms, etc.  That was their cleansing in this world. Today, we suffer none of these. Has something fundamentally changed in the way Hashem deals with us?

I suggest that our economic woes and struggles are the suffering for today’s generation. This is our method of cleansing for our wrongdoings. Our job, then, is to accept the burden with love and with the realization that it is for our ultimate good.



  1. Agree to most of what was said here…

    my main issue is that there are alot of very wealthy people who don’t do enough for the families that can’t put food on the table…. where is their haskafa???

  2. As my name might suggest, I am single.

    Last night I went to the local jewish grocery for some very basic food items , nothing fancy.

    After paying at the cash register , I could not help but wonder what it must cost to feed a large family, or any size family.


  3. maybe instead of wasting time writing on the web, you should read a little. Every religion tells themselves exactly what you wrote. Monks take poverty vows, hindus and buddhists give up all worldly possessions, etc. I especially love how in your list of “expenses”, you include shaitels. Do you really believe Hashem is “cleansing you” via the high cost of shaitels?

  4. I question the validity of an article published anonymously. I don’t think this is our onesh – I think this is the price we pay for our foolishness. There is much that we could do for less – camps – bungalows – it’s all nonsense. Yidden – choose the simple – non-materialistic life – be happy in an older car – simple clothes -etc.

  5. As to ‘bar mitzvahs, chasunahs’, they don’t have to cost a lot.

    While working amongst gentiles over the last decade or so, on at least 10 occasions, I have heard many a non-Jew comment ‘I went to a huge wedding over the weekend’. When asked how large the wedding was. They replied, 60 couples.

    The only reason chasunas are soooo expensive is that we make them expensive.
    What don’t you need to buy: benchers, new flowers, band, videos, and much more.

    Most of the people you invite would really be home with their family.
    Most of the people you invite don’t want to spend 2 hours and endless tolls commuting to the chasuna.

    Bottom line: make them smaller, make them chaper.

    The reason this is an issue is that 98% of the people don’t have the confidence to make a small, unpretentious simchas.

    For the 2% that have limited financial abilities and do make small, unpretentious simchas, they have much less worries, and at the end of the day, simply don’t have to worry about a huge debt that they incurred to a few hundred people could be entertained and fed for 3 hours..

  6. Are you saying that those of us “frum Yidden” who go to college and start our careers early. Live in frum communities, support the mosdos and the other organizations, are koveiah itim and daven with minyanim, are going to suffer eternal punishment because we went to work and got educations? This is truly a sad state for Yidishkeit.

  7. Good point. Accept out financial woes as part of God’s great plan to cleanse us from out sins.

    . . . On the other hand, we could perhaps try to avoid the sins, get an education, work to support our families, and push ourselves to learn as much as possible as well. It a big burden, but we don’t become better human beings, or Jews for that matter, by shirking any of our many obligations in favor of other, less daunting paths.

    Blasphemous, I know.

  8. Who decided that sending a bochur to college is assur? We make up our own meshigas so we suffer and say that we will get extra reward for suffering in this world. You have a very simple mind. Sure. Why don’t you beat your head into a wall until its bloody and then you’ll get even more reward in the next world.

  9. COME ON, REALLY? – who says everybody has to:

    Throw costly bar mitzvas or weddings
    Buy or wear sheitles
    Pay 1,000s for shul membership
    Start your career at age 30
    Have many, many children

    People are allowed to make choices in this generation. A person can:

    Throw a modest, family-only affair
    Wear hats or moderately priced wig(s)
    Pay associate memberships @ shuls or shop around
    Go to college/start career at an earlier age
    Have a smaller family if income doesn’t allow for a larger

    This post smells like a rationalization for self-destructive economic behavior.

  10. Or, we could forgo the summer camps and lavish chasunas and bar mitzvas, get jobs that will support our families, and leave the cheshbonos of who is rewarded or punished in this world to Hashem.

  11. This article ignores the role of hishtadlus. There are frum yidden who are also do well off financially. This article is very passive and also presumes to understand hashem’s wishes. Perhaps he wants you to be frum and financially comfortable. Do not give up so easily.

  12. I respectfully disagree.
    I know many ehrliche people who are well off. Are you saying that they are just getting rewarded now in Olam Hazeh and not when they pass on? Your presumption holds water when your talking about people who are ehrliche but struggling, but if you look at the ehrlich people who aren’t, I believe that it’s wrong.
    What about people who aren’t ehrliche at all, but are struggling?
    Then again, I am not Hashem, and can’t say what it is, just how I feel.

  13. the reality however is that in the previous generations jews were excluded from the professions (and in places – property ownership) and as such were relegated to a perpetual state of poverty; now however, (yes .. boruch hashem) we have numerous KOSHER venues for becoming a professional or paraprofessional .. avail yourself of those opportunities and with the ribono shel olams help you may become financially independent

  14. I think the author confuses Chareidi sociology with religious requirements. Truth be told, we make our lives harder than the Torah requires. Case in point, Glatt meat, at least for Ashkenazim. There is no reason for it, other than the fact that we unilaterally, raised the bar to make it the sine qua non of kosher meat. Were we to actually rely on the Rema, there would be about thirty to fifty percent more kosher meat available on the market, with a corresponding reduction in the price for kosher meat.

  15. Move to Cleveland
    1. Best Chinuch around
    2.Cheap housing
    3.Chessed 2nd to none
    4.Top of the line Rabbonim
    5.Highest percentage of ”Shas Balabatim
    6.Beautiful weather March thru November
    7. Menuchas Hanefesh style of living
    Try it you’ll like it

  16. Great article,it gave me chizuk. I do not go to bungalows, my children are not in over night camp nor are the simchas that we make lavish.I am a hard working college grad (masters as well), the simple costs of being a frum yid (paying tuition , yom tov etc.) takes a toll (a very hard toll). The author did not imply in any way that a wealthy person is getting his reward now, the rich man has his tests too (perhaps harder tests) and when he passes along with we the “simple” getting our tests in bitachon will get great Olam Haba.
    I once asked an adom gadol why in Nesana Tokef all the “good” things come first, yet by rich and poor the poor comes first? His response was that the test of a rich man is harder. many of us including myself daven for that test, for now strengthen yourself, relize that everything is from Hashem and keep on doing the correct things (including spending properly and not betond your budget).

  17. I think it was Reb Moshe who berated someone for saying “s’iz shver tzu zein a Yid”.

    Tzaddik v’ra lo, rasha v’tov lo, is not so cut and dried.

  18. Until recently, Yidden suffered physical torment from the nations – inquisitions, holocausts, Soviet oppression, pogroms, etc. That was their cleansing in this world. Today, we suffer none of these.

    Have you been clued in to the terrorism in the holy land? Anti-Semitism exhibited in Europe thru attacks, killings, etc… Are you looking around? Perhaps histadlus for parnassa is a necessity and real emunah needs to be learned.

  19. Respectfully, this is garbage.

    – the writer pretends to have the answers to schar and onesh in this world. Really?

    – the writer assumes we all need expensive sheitels, camps, big smichas in order to be good enws. Nonsense!

    To compare this matzav to a pogrom or the holocaust? Disgraceful! No more, no less.

    The big difference is that we brought this upon ourselves, and we allow it to continue with our gashmiusdik lives and obsession with keeping up with the neighbors.

    Think again “K G”.

  20. ??????? ?? ?

    ?”? (????? ??, ??) ?? ???? ?’ ??? [???’] ?? ???? ?? ???? ?? ???? ???? ????? ??? ?? ??? ?? ?? ????? ??????? ?”? ?? ??????? ???????? ?”? ?? ????? ????? ?? ????

  21. BH we can find ways to deals with alot of these expenses. If only we could figure out a way to deal with property taxes in Lakewood alot of us would have a much better financial future!

  22. Never has there been a time in histoy of the Jewish people that we have been so wealthy, and never has there been a time that we have been so miserable.

  23. I have many fine cousins who live in Cleveland, and it is a wonderful town.

    But on what study do you base your claim that it has the “highest percentage of Shas Balabatim”?

  24. MONEY IS A TEST OF FAITH FOT EVERYONE. RICH OR POOR… this is a nisayon (test) from H-shem to see if each of us has the proper faith in Hashem & believe that he will make it through life even with all the expenses & work involved.

    WAKEUP & face the fact.life is about preparing for the true world NOT VICE VERSA (ENJOYING THIS WORLD- THE FALSE WORLD)

    In the Torah in the Parsha of Shemitta & Yovel, Hashem Guarantees & promises anyone that if they keep these Halachos they will always be taken care of. (either by getting double in the Sixth year or even having extra) Where is Shemitta & Yovel TODAY in the Diaspora? Where can we find this when outside of Israel is not even responsible for these Halachos? The answer is Hashem promises anyone that if he runs his business with %100 honesty (coming to work on time & not even a minute late, never using your office time to check your personal needs or the news on the computer, paying your employees on time etc…) he is guaranteed to always have money & never have the need to struggle to make ends meet. This is where we are holding today, for those of us that have been-& still are- honest, from before the economy started going downhill in the beginning of the century. They are the people that are guaranteed to make it through the economy-even- when it crashes.

    Who is the one that is ready to be an Employer? Why should i deserve to be an employer more then a employee? The one that his money & business won’t effect his relationship with Hashem he is still going to daven in a minyan every day & have a learning ??? every day. While an employee only works from 9:00AM to 5:00PM this time of work is his fence between him & Hashem telling him its time to go Daven & learn. But the person that realizes this does not need this fence as a reminder to go daven & learn Hashem sees he gives ???? he Daven & learns everyday why shouldn’t he be a multi millionaire he knows how to spend it right & appreciates that i picked him to be an employer more then an employee. Why don’t jews run the biggest businesses in the world? Because if we do it will effect the relationship between him & Hashem (he will forget to daven & not be ???? ??? etc…) while on the other hand the phone company of IDT is owned by a jew by the name of Howard Jonas. Why is he the owner of such a big company? Why did Hashem pick him? Hashem saw in the future that this man has the potential to be rich & not forget Hashem that put him in this position & still do his ????

  25. Yes, I completely agree. I will be purchasing my $1000 custom sheitel as a way for Hashem to further punish me in this world so I can get olam habah.

  26. What a sad commentary and a chillul Hashem to even think that Hashem wants his children to suffer. And then while the commentator is at it he blasphemes non charedi type Jews as well. How sad you even published this.

    Yidden we can do better, lets demand form the Ribbono shel Olam who is a “teva hatov lehaitiv” to stop the pain and give us all what we need bevanei chayai umezono revicha

  27. The author of this article must be a democrat who is always a victim.
    My Mother always said,
    “The way you make your bed is how you will sleep.”
    Yahadus empowers you it does not victimize you.

  28. #1:

    “my main issue is that there are alot of very wealthy people who don’t do enough for the families that can’t put food on the table…. where is their haskafa???’

    How do you know what they do or don’t do? Do you know where their tzdeko money goes, or how much they give?

  29. I’m all for working, I’m all for learning. Whatever your tafkid is, you do it.

    Our greatest test in our poverty, wealth and day to day lives is not whether we live with it well, but whether or not our material possessions define us.

    I have a good friend who is working but his wife is embarrassed not to have a designer stroller. What kids DOESN’T have either an ipod or a portable gaming system and doesn’t feel like they are lacking?

    When I was a kid (and I’m in my 20s) the fanciest thing any of my friends had were roller blades. And if you had your own pair that was new, you were special. My nieces and nephews in the frumest of the frum communities feel like they need so much more than we did.

    Yeshiva tuition is only one part of the burden we bare. Materialism is today’s generation’s biggest nisayon. It feeds everything else. And I’m speaking of myself as well.

    This why (I heard) the Lubavitcher Rebbe said that prishus for our generation is eating the right, kosher food with a good bracha. If only we could live our lives making the right brachos.