Haredi children are suing their parents at an alarming rate over wedding gifts that don't match up to what they were promised by the parents. For example, a father promises his prospective son-in-law's family that he will buy the couple an apartment in Jerusalem if the boy agrees to marry his daughter. But after the wedding, the apartment purchased for the young couple isn't in Jerusalem. Instead, it's in Beit Shemesh, a suburb, or in Ashdod, a port town with a large haredi community about one hour away by car (or 2 1/2 hours by bus) from Jerusalem. So the children sue.
Marty Bluke has a post on an article published the latest issue of the Hebrew language Israel edition of the most moderate haredi magazine, Mishpacha Magazine.
Here are excerpts Bluke translated and posted:
…He promised me a complete arrangement the plaintiff proud and determined stood in front of the Beit Din his wife at his side as a loyal wife ready to testify. Her father promised an apartment in Jerusalem and in the end bought them an apartment in the periphery.…
This is the story: A Yerushalmi father was taken to Beis Din as a defendant by his son in law and daughter. The young couple was demanding everything that was coming to to them under a "full arrangement". This story is famous ... but the judges of the Beis Din see stories like this that come to their desks on a regular basis. Also to them come the cases of married children suing their parents…
Many young couples have they own private little store, their parents kitchen. How simple is it to just come over for a night or Shabbos open the cabinets and remember that you forgot to buy pasta or oil and simply take it.…
Sometime the parents order a large delivery of trays of chicken and turkey that will last until Tu Bishvat, at least that is what they thought. But their child, a father of 3 himself, sees the freezer full of chicken trays and takes a few. Who will notice if before there were 10 and now there are only 7?…
Someone told about a respected Jew in Ashdod who, every time his married children come for a visit, moves all of the cans to a higher closet, they hide everything.…
The yeshiva students of today get everything explains Rav Tzvi Twersky, a veteran educator and marriage counsellor, to Mishpacha. This is good and correct because they are learning Torah and they are the tip of the spear of the Jewish people. We pamper them and give them honour regularly: They are 18-19 year olds who get for free a furnished place to live, electricity, water, and 3 meals a day. This is how it should be. ... However, sometimes, with all of this abundance, it happens that the boys get used to the fact that they should just get everything. Maybe we don't educate them enough to have gratitude, maybe no one explained to them that there is someone who works very hard so tha they can enjoy all of this abundance.…
Parents of married children told us that in the past they had more options. We are talking about people who married off their oldest child 10-20 years ago , at the time they felt rich. They had a few hundred thousand shekels saved up, twenty thousand dollars from their grandfather, a holocaust survivor, and a small apartment in Afula for investment purposes. The first child they married off in grand fashion. and they gave them everything and supported them. Today however, with the marriage of their sixth child, the rug has been pulled from under their financial feet. The savings are gone, spent on the weddings. The grandfather is dead, and the apartment in Afula is mortgaged and the rent does not even cover 1/3 of the mortgage. But the married children refuse to understand the situation. The fifth daughter wants the same (expensive) carriage as her older sister got.…
Just so the shock of this or the outrageousness of of this doesn't confuse you, allow me to restate and summarize what Bluke translated:
1. Young married haredi couples are suing their parents in beit din (Orthodox religious court) because the financial support the parents (usually the bride's parents) promised as an inducement to marriage has not been fully or properly paid to the young couple. So a parent promises his future in-laws that he will buy a Jerusalem apartment for the young couple. But he can't really afford that, so he buys them an apartment in Arad or Ashdod Kiryat Sefer or Beit Shemesh, and this lands the parent in beit din facing asuit for breech of contract. This scenario is a frequent, not a rare, occurrence.
2. Young married couples and their children go to visit thier parents and while there, raid the refrigerator-freezer and pantry, essentially stealing food from their parents. This happens very commonly, Mishpacha says, and often puts a large financial burden on parents who cannot afford it and who eventually buckle under it.
Bluke sees manifestation of haredi poverty in both of these cases and he's right.
Most parents aren't using a bait-n-switch scheme to induce a marriage. Instead, buying an apartment in Ashdod for the couple is almost as far out of reach for them as buying an apartment in Jerusalem for them is. Either purchase is so abstract – and is so dependant on charity money that will have to be raised to make the purchase happen – that what the parent is really committing to is raising the money to make the purchase, not using his own money to make the purchase, because few of these haredi families have that money to begin with.
Haredi fathers either go themselves to Lakewood, Manchester, Brussels, etc. and beg for for money to fulfill their promise or send a semi-professional charity collector to do so for them. (The collector takes a cut for himself as pay.)
Multiply this by hundreds, maybe thousands, of haredi families every year.
This self-imposed desperation make rich haredim who dole out lots of charity money far more important than they otherwise would be in the lives of the average haredi family. And this desperation also causes haredim, I think, to overlook how these rich haredim make their money.
Yes, for every Sholom Rubashkin or Eliyahu Weinstein there are likely haredim who really got lucky in real estate honestly or who started a business that honesty grew to become insanely profitable.
The problem is that those honest rich haredim tend to have less disposable cash to give away than thieves like Rubashkin or Weinstein. And that makes the Rubashkins and Weinsteins of the haredi community even more important than they otherwise would be.
So when haredi rabbis and community leaders rally around Rubashkin or Weinstein (or Strulovics, etc.), rank-and-file haredim almost always follow. It's much easier for them to believe in vast conspiracy theories led by "anti-Semitic" state and federal prosecutors and judges than it is to believe the nice man who gave them $1,000 or $5,000 toward their child's wedding and new apartment and did the same for dozens of other haredim they know is nothing more than thief who destroyed the lives of others.
So Rubashkin and Weinstein and the others become in the eyes of haredim like modern-day Robin Hoods.
All of this would be much different if haredim left their yeshivas at age 24, say, and went to work, and if their primary schools, middle schools and high schools had strong secular studies programs that taught math, science, computer science, English and other subjects necessary to succeed in today's workplace in Israel and elsewhere.
But haredim refuse to stop full time Torah study to the exclusion of all else and often persist with it well into middle age. Their schools teach little or nor secular subjects, and haredim educated in them have almost no chance of ever making enough money to support a large haredi family and pay for a haredi lifestyle.
That leaves government aid in the form of welfare and yeshiva stipends and charity as these families main form of support. And that makes Sholom Rubashkin and Eliyahu Weinstein heroes, thieving haredi politicians like Aryeh Deri heroes, and rabbis who enable these thieves heroes.
This is what haredism has become, hasidic or non-hasidic, non-Zionist or anti-Zionist.
And with a birthrate of something like 7 to 8 children per couple, I'm afraid the next decades will only be worse.