BS"D Adar I, 5760
Sadly, the situation at
times borders upon pikuach nefesh and sometimes even
reaches actual pikuach nefesh. One who researches the
issue will be horrified to see to what lengths these matters
have reached. We are therefore obligated to find a way to
lighten this burden.
First of all, we must know that the basis of a Torah home is
"Pas bemelach tochal umayim bemesura tishteh . . .
uvaTorah ato omeil. Eat bread dipped in salt and [drink]
water in measured amounts . . . and toil in Torah." This
obligates us to be satisfied with little. The Jewish home
must also be based on respect for the parents of both husband
and wife. Pressure and causing them distress is certainly
"The money a person takes with a wife is not honest money . .
. rather, whatever money one receives from his father-in-law
and mother-in-law he should take graciously, and then one
will succeed." (Shulchan Oruch, Even Haezer, 2:1. See
Biyur HaGra there, 6.)
Also Parents who stand behind their children must be reminded
that one of the main aspects of interpersonal relations is
mentioned by the Rambam, (chapter five, Hilchos Dei'os,
halocho 12): "A person must never cause his fellow sorrow
during his life." In other words, one must refrain from
causing one's fellow sorrow in any manner whatsoever, and
surely not pressure him. This prohibition also pertains to
transactions of shidduchim, because sometimes during
these transactions one side causes the other sorrow and
strain, and sometimes as a result one side will promise
something that he does not have and it has no way to fulfill
the promise. The Rambam has written (Hilchos Dei'os,
6:3) that the obligation to be as considerate of one's
fellow's money as of one's own is included in the positive
mitzvah of "love your fellow as yourself."
Overburdening oneself is just as forbidden as overburdening
one's fellow. A person may not promise to give what he is
unable to give, and we must teach our children that enjoying
material affluence is neither the way of the Torah nor
praiseworthy. Quite the opposite is true, and the meritorious
person is one who fulfills the words of the Mishnah:
"This is the way of Torah, eat bread dipped in salt . . .
and toil in Torah . . . fortunate are you in this world, and
it will be good for you in the World to Come." Don't seek
greatness [wealth] for yourself and don't desire more honor
you are accustomed to receiving. In order to ease the burden,
it is proper (min horo'ui) for young couples to agree
to live in outlying towns.
We call upon all charitable Jews to help establish a special
free loan fund to support those who are satisfied with
little. The importance of such a fund is stressed in
Ahavas Chessed of the Chofetz Chaim, who spoke about
this at length. We also appeal to those who are able to help
to lower the prices of apartments as much as possible. May
those who assist in these efforts be blessed from
We therefore have decided to ask the Torah community to
follow the following guidelines:
a) In general, to economize on wedding expenses and to
refrain from luxuries.
b) In the discussions about the subject of shidduchim
it is proper that both sides share the burden equally. One
side should not demand more than he himself has promised to
c) Both sides should suffice with inexpensive apartments
which, according to experts in the field, currently cost $90-
95,000. They should not promise to give more than that.
And may Hashem yisborach help our brethren to marry
their offspring easily and with harchovas hada'as.
Yosef Sholom Eliashiv, Moshe Shmuel Shapiro, Aharon Yehuda
Leib Steinman, Simcha Ziskind Broide, Michel Yehuda
Lefkowitz, Nissim Karelitz