Thursday, January 28, 2010

Apple strudel


This was my very first attempt at apple strudel, so I chose a simple recipe from here (link in Hebrew). The result was simply divine, starting from the moment the delicious smell of apple strudel filled the house and continuing with the first taste of a hot slice of strudel, fresh out of the oven.

For the dough:

2 1\2 cups of flour

1 egg

2 tbsp. of vegetable oil

1 cup water + 1 tbsp. of white vinegar

Combine flour, egg and oil. Slowly start pouring water with vinegar into the mixture, just until the dough is nice and workable. Most likely you won't need all the water.

Divide the dough into several balls. I made four, and got four mini strudels. It's possible to divide it in two, and get two big strudels.

Roll out the dough on a floured surface. Dough should be rolled out thinly.

For the filling:

I took seven small apples, which I roughly grated and mixed with some cinnamon and a couple of tablespoons of date spread. If you don't have date spread, jam or honey can work just as well, or you can simply mix the apples with a bit of cinnamon and sugar, and dot with butter before rolling the strudels in. I think adding raisins would have been wonderful, but I didn't have any on hand.

Spread the filling on the sheet of dough, leaving the edges empty. Roll the dough in, and seal the edges.

I brushed my strudels with some oil and sprinkled sugar and cinnamon on top of them before baking.

Bake at medium heat for approx. 40 minutes. In my oven, the strudels didn't brown but they were most definitely ready.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Men, women, work and housework

This arrangement, of me working outside the home (even though it's only two days a week), thus stepping into my husband's shoes for a bit, and my husband stepping into my shoes, does not work well. At all. With our best intentions, and knowing that we are doing what must be done at the moment, it can be kept for a limited amount of time. But in the long run, it doesn't work. Men are meant to work outside the home while women keep the gates and hearths and bear and raise children. This has been the way since the beginning of time, and all attempts of finding an alternative arrangement brought nothing to our society but confusion, dissatisfaction and disruption.

You have been so amazingly supportive. I have piles upon piles of emails I want to answer, and will hopefully answer soon, as time allows. For now, I would like to say thank you again to those who have taken the time to write and express their encouragement.

Some voices suggested that now, I will have to be more sympathetic to wives and mothers who must work outside the home. Well, if you read my previous posts carefully, you will see that I have always been very sympathetic towards women who are forced to work, but truly have their hearts at home. Actually, I believe I wrote at least a few times that truly ambitious women with glorious careers are few and far between. Much more often, women occupy the positions of cashiers, secretaries, kindergarten teachers, saleswomen, and other jobs which are low-paying and not very intellectually challenging. They end up doing these jobs not because they are oppressed, but because they are not very ambitious but are still expected to do "something". Many of those women count the hours until they can go home to their families and children, and would like nothing better than to stay at home full-time – something they cannot do, or think they cannot do, because of true or perceived financial necessity, and because all of us who were educated in the public school system have been indoctrinated that we must bring in a paycheck to be worth something.

There is also social pressure. Not long ago, someone I know admitted to me that one of her daughters-in-law doesn't work outside the home because she is pregnant and has several other children to take care of. She sounded very embarrassed, and apparently, expected me to see this as something very strange and unacceptable. She was obviously very relieved when I didn't. The social pressure to "go out and do something" is high, and I was always aware of it, and I could never feel anything but sympathy for the average woman, whom I see as the victim of ideals promoted by those few who truly have the ambition, motivation, desire and right circumstances to be happy with their lives centered around their work.

The majority of women want to be good wives and mothers. That's our primary calling. And that's natural and good, as the majority of us are or will be married, and the majority of those who marry will have children. Please note that I'm talking about social trends here. I realize that someone can always say, "I have never been married and don't desire to" or "I never had a passion for anything but work." The fact remains that most women will marry and have families, and these families will need good homes and orderly lives, something only a dedicated wife can provide.

Working outside the home does not diminish a woman's desire to have an orderly home and happy, well cared for children. That's precisely the conflict we were landed with ever since we bought into the myths of "women's liberation". Of course it's impossible to have it all and do it all, and stay sane. I have always found it very unfair that women are, essentially, forced to do way too much. Someone invented this myth, which is ridiculous when you think about it, that we can be away from home for an entire day and our home life won't suffer. Personally, after a day at work I have hardly any energy left for my home. The vitality of the best part of my day is drained away from me. Some told me that it's all "a matter of attitude". Of course it is. I can never feel the same way about working outside the home as I do when I work in my home.

Some claim that it could all work - if only men agreed to play their part of the game. Both spouses work the same number of hours outside the home, both do an equal share of the housework and childcare. But practically, most men will still work longer hours, if only because men are naturally more ambitious and more inclined to choose the more challenging and demanding jobs. Men are also less inclined towards domesticity. I'm not saying this as an excuse for men to do nothing around the house when their help is really and truly needed – I fully believe husbands can and should step up to the plate in emergency cases, to help out, to extend kindness to their wives. But guess what? When my husband is at home alone for a day, it's not like he becomes the homemaker. It's not in his nature. He's a great help, but he won't do things like straightening the cushions or ironing. He's not a nester like I am, and he isn't supposed to be. I can moan about it, or I can accept it. I choose to accept it, and work and carefully plan towards the day when each of us fully embraces what we were meant to do.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Healthy energy cake


This cake, featuring dried fruit, grains, honey and orange juice, can be great as a healthy midday snack or, I think, a batch of breakfast muffins. The original recipe, in Hebrew, is here, but I made a few modifications.

So, here goes:

A little less than 2 cups flour

1\2 cup oil

2 eggs

4 tbsp. sugar

The juice of one orange

4 tbsp. honey

4 tbsp. tahina (if tahina isn't common where you live, I think it can be replaced with some sort of nut butter, like peanut or almond)

3\4 cup chopped dried fruit (I took prunes and apricots)

A handful of sunflower seeds (it said nuts in the original recipe, but I didn't have any)

1 tbsp. of orange zest

1 tbsp. baking powder

I also added a couple of tablespoons of powdered almond (left over from another cake), but that's optional. Next time I make it, I think I'll try adding some coconut.

Batter should be sticky. Pour it into a pan. I sprinkled sesame and poppy seeds on top of mine.

Bake until golden-brown. Took me about 40 minutes at medium heat, but my oven is not that strong.

My husband enjoyed this cake, as he prefers his cakes not too sweet. If you like additional sweetness you can, of course, add more sugar.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Home businesses and earning money from home

At these times, when many find it difficult to balance their home economy, I'm sure I'm not the only one who thinks of ways of generating some income from home. Overall, I believe that if it comes to wives earning money, it's better to do so from home.

That said, as someone who had worked from home for periods of time in the past, I must emphasize that working from home is still working. Yes, you are physically there, but you are distracted. It's difficult to have set work hours, and so the line between "work" time and "home" time is blurred, which can add to levels of stress. Not every woman at home is supposed to feel pressured to start a home business, and indeed, in some seasons of our lives, it's better to put projects on hold.

When choosing to have a side business from home, I think it's preferable to opt for something you are already good at, or on the contrary, it can something new that you feel motivated to do. Personally, I wouldn't choose anything that requires a big initial investment, finances-wise.

The options can be many. There are families around here who sell home-baked bread and cakes, or raise goats and chickens and sell milk, cheese and eggs (that can be a full-fledged business). Others sell their handiwork, like embroidered head scarves, jewelry and hand-thrown pottery. I'm not sure how much money the local artisans actually make, but I'm fairly sure it's more of a little something on the side than something that can actually sustain a family.

We have explored other venues of making money from home, which, so far, have not worked out. What I would like best, of course, is to take my writing to a whole different level. I am working on it, but that's more of a long-term goal. It requires time, energy and inspiration. So far, to be practical, we need to keep afloat, and therefore I'm open to ideas of what we can do at home.

There is one thing, however, that almost everyone think I'm supposed to be doing, and that I, on the other hand, think would be a very bad idea for us. That is providing childcare. It's common around here for stay-at-home mothers to take a couple of other babies/little ones into their homes, and many seem to believe that is the most obvious answer for a family that is struggling financially.

However, and I know I risk sounding horribly callous here, I am not what you'd call a "baby person". I love spending time around my own child, but I don't have much patience for other people's babies and toddlers, and therefore I feel I would be doing the poor children and their parents a great disservice if I agreed to provide care for them. Not to mention that it would mean inviting pandemonium into my home while my husband needs peace and quiet to study for his work venues, which are far more important than whatever I might be doing on the side.

If we do find an idea for a home business that works anytime soon, I will, of course, write an update about it.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Superb mousse cake


Last week, my husband found some whipping cream for a price that was too good to miss, and expressed his wish for some special dessert. Well, you can probably guess that few things gladden my heart like making a fancy cake. I tried a new recipe for a mousse cake, which came out simply superb. My husband told me, without exaggeration, that this is the best mousse cake he ever tasted.

The original recipe (alas, in Hebrew) can be found here. I made a few alterations and simplifications, which I include in the version I'm posting here.

For the foundation, I took:

100 gr soft butter

3 eggs, whites separated from the yolks

1\4 cup sugar

100 gr melted dark chocolate

Approx. 1\2 cup grated nuts (I used walnuts)

Beat egg whites with sugar until you get firm peaks. Blend together egg yolks, butter, and melted chocolate. Mix together with the egg whites and add grated nuts. Bake at medium heat for approx. 20 minutes.

Then I prepared the mousse:

Take about 2 cups of whipping cream (I used a bit less)

3-4 tbsp. of halva spread (if halva spread isn't common where you live, almond butter can be used).

About 3 tbsp. of instant pudding mix of your preferred flavor

Mix, blend and whip it all together until you get a light, delicious cream.

Pour cream over the foundation and decorate with chopped nuts, grated chocolate, or whatever your heart desires.

Freeze overnight and serve straight from the freezer.

As it's a very rich dessert, it should be enjoyed in small portions. If you have the willpower to resist demolishing it all in one go.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

A heartfelt thank you and some observations

Dear friends,

First and foremost, thank you for your kind, supportive, loving and gentle comments on my last post. Reading them meant so much to me. At this difficult time, I treasure your friendship and support more than ever, as there aren't many people in my immediate surroundings that understand the stressful nature of our situation.

Several people made suggestions of generating income from home. We have already explored several options, which did not work out, and there are venues which might prove profitable in the future – however, right now there is a pressing need for something to keep us afloat. It is temporary and I believe that there will be a way, soon, for me to come back home full-time.

Others remarked that now, I might see even more clearly the need for a wife and mother to be at home, and her struggles when she must go out and work. I'm no stranger to working full-time, but yes, I have only done that when I was single. It's true that with every day I spend at work, I am even more convinced that working and being a wife and a mother of young children places an undue burden on a woman. Not that I didn't know it before, but now I see it with a heart-wrenching clarity.

Someone asked me what it is that I actually do. I work in a local science center that caters to schools from the entire area. I prepare lab workshops and activities, and help the teachers and students. I also do some administrative work.

Since I see teachers and schoolchildren around me every day I work, the realizations that hit me are often sad and sometimes heartbreaking. Teaching is supposed to be a family-friendly job, and it is often chosen by religious women for whom family is the top priority. But for a mother of a growing family, even a part-time job is usually more than she should be dealing with. I see excellent wives and mothers, dedicated homemakers, who are stressed and fretful because they simply cannot do it all. Many of them talk about unwashed dishes, piled up laundry and sick children that are brushed aside. The prevalence of this is just so sad.

Then there are the schoolchildren, who are herded in large age-segregated groups, locked up in classrooms, and told to do something at the same time. Most often, this something is a thing that could have been performed in a much easier and more interesting way at home, with more time for the children to relax during the process and ask questions about whatever interests them. In an institutionalized setting, I see this most often isn't possible.

The children are wonderful, the teachers are excellent, the lessons are planned as well as they can be. But the system itself seems to be faulty. I do realize that not all children can, or should, be homeschooled, and in Israel, it's a very controversial option indeed. However, once again I can't help but notice that institutionalized schooling is often not the best option for young children. I have often wondered whether my own negative experience of my school years has been exacerbated over time. Now that I work with schoolchildren, I feel even more strongly that I would like my daughter to have, at least, a different option.

Friday, January 15, 2010

It has been on my heart

What I'm about to tell has been on my heart for a while, and I have put off sharing with you because whenever I sat down to write, the words that poured out were so gloomy that I decided it's better to wait a bit more, until perhaps, things get better. But eventually I gathered my thoughts.

Some of you may remember that some time ago, I told that my husband is looking for work. The circumstances are not easy for us and have not been easy for some time now. I will not go into details; it will suffice that I tell you I was forced, with a very heavy heart, to accept a part-time job outside the home. I know all my regular readers can imagine what the situation must be like, for me to accept that job, when my husband and I both know and appreciate the place of a wife and mother in her home.

I only work two days a week, which may not seem much, but it casts our entire weekly rhythm askew. My work requires me to be on my feet throughout the entire day, with hardly any breaks, so when I come home I'm utterly exhausted and only just able to do the bare essentials (eat, do the dishes, bathe and tuck in the baby) before I collapse into my (unmade) bed.

Just to say, my wonderful husband has been a great big help to me, always generous when it comes to lending a hand around the house, but he obviously cannot be focused on housework the way I can, because it's not his domain and he has other priorities (such as for example studying things that will be important for his future advancement, in every spare moment he has).

All around me, I see wives and mothers in the same situation. Harassed, hurried, torn apart between work and home.

On the first day after work is done and I'm staying home, my heart rejoices but I feel physically ill, almost as though I'm recovering from the flu. My head is abuzz and I move as though in a dream.

I normally don't like to complain here, but it's so difficult for me, mainly because I miss being with my daughter on my days away. I also can't help but think that in the weird way our world is running, I spend many hours away from home doing something that ultimately, does no one any real good, while I could have been doing good, worthwhile and necessary work at home.

I don't forget, of course, to count my blessings. My daughter is in the care of her father, with whom she shares the tenderest, most loving and close relationship from the day she was born. She remains at home, and her routine is largely unchanged. Another blessing is that I work right here in the village. I don't waste any time or money on commute; I only have to walk ten minutes to get there and back. The majority of people who work with me are local, and it's a blessing to get to know them and tie strings within the community.

That said, there are now two types of days in my week, strikingly different. One is when I rush out of the home in the early morning, come back in the afternoon and try to create some semblance of order in the few short hours that are left to me before bedtime. The other is when I'm home, relaxed, doing what needs to be done in a gentle and quiet rhythm that leaves my heart contented and peaceful. I don't have to tell you which type of day I prefer, and which is better for us all. The urge to take care of my nest is so strong, so right and powerful. I am needed at home, and I need to be home.

I may be tired at the end of a day at home, but there is the kind of tiredness that comes after good hard work and seeing it complete, and there is dull exhaustion that leaves you barely able to drag your feet. That is what I feel after a day at work.

The work I'm doing is so low-paying that there's no way it would have been profitable if I had to pay for daycare and/or commute. Nevertheless, you could practically hear the collective sigh of relief from nearly everyone who knows me, because I'm "finally doing something." People actually believe I should hold on to this job at all costs, even when it is no longer necessary. Others think that I should go and get my MSc, and do something "more ambitious" – but to me, really, there is no ambition and no deeper desire than to be a good wife and mother, to have a lovely and orderly home, and many children to raise and love. How short-sighted it would be right now, for me as a mother of a young family, to invest much time and effort in anything but my primary vision of wifehood and motherhood.

We see the current situation as a temporary emergency, which will hopefully be resolved soon enough, and then I can again be home full-time with no distractions, as we have always wished.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The government and the Almighty

Not long ago, a reader who wrote to me demanded that I justify certain actions of our government. Though I always try to avoid discussing politics here, I felt a general clarification was in order.

We do not associate ourselves with the government. Sure, we're law-abiding citizens (though we aren't always treated as such), we pay our bills and vote and all, but our loyalty does not lie with the government, or with the modern state of Israel. Our loyalty, instead, lies with the Biblical land of Israel, with the place we call home, and with our fellow Jewish people.

However wise, however convincing, however authoritative our official representatives may sound, the fact remains that most of them do not honor God, and therefore their judgment will always be twisted and lacking. There is little we can do about it, except console ourselves with the fact that God is in control and He is ever faithful.

Though I do not often write about it here on the blog, there is a darker side to our lives. We strive to live a normal life, and indeed, our day-to-day rhythm is calm and quiet. I share with you my daily activities of baking cakes or hanging clothes on the line, of basking in the glory of nature and open skies. We live in a beautiful, clean, quiet place. But yes, there is also a darker side.

There is instability and danger, and many streets called after people who were brutally murdered a mere year or two or three ago. If I start expanding on this, I will have to open a whole new blog with a different theme, and I do not have the time or mental energy to cope with that. Perhaps my husband might open such a blog, and then I'll lend him a hand – but I won't do it myself. I'm first and foremost a wife and mother, a keeper of the hearth and gates of my home.

I believe this is the closest I have ever come to raising a political issue here, or rather, as was my intention, to explaining just why I try to keep away from politics. They are flippantly changeable, unstable, unreliable, untrustworthy. God's divine instruction is eternal. We can never do wrong by abiding by His laws. The sense of peace this knowledge gives is overwhelming.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Noodles


Two days ago, we were extremely tired and very hungry, and the need for a good, quick dinner was obvious. When I'm stuck with no dinner, pasta is usually my first choice. There are few things easier than whipping up some tomato sauce, boiling pasta and shredding a bit of cheese on top.

This time, we decided to opt for noodles with stir-fried veggies. They were really good, and we enjoyed them again the next day!

I took:

2 onions, chopped

3 carrots, very finely chopped

1 bell pepper, thinly sliced

Approx. 1\2 of canned sliced mushrooms

A bit of hot green pepper, thinly chopped

A handful of halved walnuts

(Of course, modifications can be made according to what you have on hand and what your family prefers!)

My husband stir-fried it all together, adding:

5-6 tbsp. of soy sauce

3 tbsp. of chili sauce

1 tsp. sugar

A bit of ketchup

Then I cooked the noodles according to the instructions on the package, mixed the noodles and the veggies, and voila! A quick late dinner for two starved people was ready.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

How pretty

We received a very precious gift of baby clothes (from a relative) the other day. The clothes were pretty enough, but even prettier was the box they came in. Don't you just love this type of flowery, girly things?

It made me want to take out some colorful paper, gold ribbon and glue, and sit down to make something similar. Can't wait until my Shira is old enough to enjoy these things. Then both of us can have an opportunity to indulge.

Friday, January 8, 2010

A sunny day


After a rainy week, we've had the perfect day for laundry, light and breezy. Our bedding, towels and clothes were dry and fresh-smelling within a few short hours, ready to be taken off the line and brought back home.

Usually, even in the winter we have more than enough sunshine for line-drying our laundry. We do not own a dryer. We do have an occasional few days now and then when it's too rainy to hang the laundry outside, and then I open my laundry rack inside the living room. It gives a cluttered look, to be sure, but there are only so many days we can do without a refreshed supply of clean socks.

I love the most those sunny days, though, when I'm out in the back yard, busy at my clothesline. Shira usually sits by my feet in the grass, playing with the clothespins. We're both enjoying the fresh air and sunshine. It's pure bliss.

After living my whole life in apartment buildings, I'm so happy to have our own home that is located right on the earth. Sometimes there's a fox creeping in the back yard, and the array of birds and insects is incredible. All we need to do to enjoy nature is take one step out of the door.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Breastfeeding in the Jewish tradition

Following my previous post about breastfeeding, I decided to go online and dig up some information about breastfeeding in the Jewish Law. Most people in my surroundings are religious, so hopefully, negative comments about breastfeeding might be stopped if I present some sources connected with our tradition.

Breastfeeding was always seen as positive in the Jewish tradition. There are several mentions of breastfeeding in the Scriptures, all in a very positive light. One example is Hannah's lament about her breasts being unused to nurse a baby, while this is obviously what they were created for.

The standard time of breastfeeding is two years. Some even say more. But certainly nowhere does it say to stop at one year or less. This is something people, even religious Jews, often ignore these days. A few days ago, I read a letter from a woman to a rabbi. She asked for advice on how to wean her one-year-old so that he could be put in daycare. The rabbi said, "Our sages recommended breastfeeding for two years, but obviously, these days it's alright to stop after one year." Why, though? Of course there is more food, and a baby (thankfully) is in no danger of starvation if he isn’t breastfed. But there are still many perks to breastfeeding beyond one year, some connected directly to health, some emotional. Mother's milk is still nutritious and immunologically beneficial.

Then the rabbi proceeded to giving the woman advice to go on a trip for a week, after which her son would supposedly wean automatically. I was shocked to read that. How cruel. Even if a child is in daycare, he can still be nursed mornings and evenings. It might prompt weaning, of course, but it won't be as abrupt and traumatic for the child and mother as just leaving for a week.

This is something I really don't get, this all-or-nothing approach. For some reason, I have noticed, many people seem to think that babies are supposed to go from nursing around the clock straight to being weaned completely. Not so. I've had people ask me, "your baby can survive without your milk now, why don't you wean her?" Weaning is supposed to be gradual, like most processes in our life. A child doesn't just start running one day after lying still in his crib. He sits, crawls, pulls himself up, makes a first tentative step… it's just the same with weaning. It's a long way from the time a baby tastes his first foods until the time he is ready to relinquish mama's breast. Why be so impatient?

Monday, January 4, 2010

A wonderful year

Tomorrow is the first birthday of our dear little Shira. A year ago, she was placed in my arms for the first time, small and fragile, secure and comfortable. I find it hard to believe how time has flown. We came home with a precious, snuggly bundle. Now we have an energetic little explorer who is eager to put her hands to use. She crawls and sits and stands and has excellent coordination when it comes to grabbing stuff. She has even started saying a few words. The progress a baby makes in a year is simply awe-inspiring.

This has been a year of successful breastfeeding, despite some dire predictions of ill-informed pediatricians. In case you have been wondering, Shira remains small and lean, even though she eats plenty of solids now. She still loves to nurse. She's down to about 3-4 times a day now, but she loves those special times with her mama and isn't at all inclined to give them up just yet.

I'm now beginning to face many raised eyebrows and scandalized expressions when I say I don't plan to wean my child anytime soon, if at all. And that's from people who only not long ago applauded me for nursing my baby. I hear lots of ridiculous suggestions, such as that after one year, formula is healthier than mother's milk and also that if I don't wean soon, I will be stuck breastfeeding until my baby is twenty years old.

Personally, I don't see why I would rush to stop breastfeeding. Shira doesn't even have teeth yet! I'm not saying babies should be weaned when they have teeth, but I do see something ironic in the fact that a toothless baby is seen as too old to nurse. I see something even more ironic in the idea of weaning my baby just to give her formula. Formula is, at best, an inferior substitute to mother's milk. Yet most children I know drink it until they're at least two. In my eyes, if the child drinks formula, he should have still been breastfed.

Beside the obvious health benefits of mother's milk, which don't just disappear because the baby is older now, it's a sweet and relaxing time. And I don't believe my child won't wean. She used to nurse around the clock, now she only nurses a few times a day. The way I see it, she will self-wean eventually and gradually. Perhaps I will feel a twinge of sadness, but by that time, I might well have another baby to nurse.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

And some more about the life of a full-time Torah scholar's wife

Once more, someone mentioned the issue of women supporting their Torah scholar husbands, and even though I have covered the subject before, I can't help bringing it up again.

The Ultra-Orthodox women used to be primarily kindergarten and school teachers. A teaching post is a job outside the home but it's one of the more flexible ones. A few years ago, some companies had the brilliant idea of integrating these women by providing training in high-tech jobs which are full-time and energy-consuming. The financial situation of a woman who takes such a job may improve, of course, but now even more is expected of those who chose that path.

"Do you know why so many of the Ultra-Orthodox women have a child every year?" said my husband. "Because they have to go to work very soon after giving birth, to support their families, and so very often breastfeeding doesn't work out for them." I think he might have a point there.

I don't want it to sound as though I think very closely spaced children are a bad thing. Each child is a gift from God. But I also believe the Almighty made our bodies in a certain way - we are geared towards breastfeeding, and initially, most of us aren't supposed to be perpetually pregnant.

If a woman is naturally supposed to have spaces of one and a half or two or three years between children, but has a child every year because she is unable to breastfeed and doesn't believe the use of birth control is acceptable, it will put a toll on her body. Throw in exhaustion and malnutrition into the equation, and you'll understand why many 30-year-olds in those communities are suffering from osteoporosis.

I expect there are at least a few women who are happy with the arrangement and want a scholar husband at all costs. But there are many who are pressured into accepting the path I just described. In my eyes, it's the oddest mix between misogyny and feminism.

It should simply be a top-rank priority that a mother of a rapidly growing family has the opportunity to stay home and nurture her children. Especially in a community that talks so much about the importance of a woman building her home.

I will be the last person to say we don't need full-time Torah scholars in our troubled and corrupt generation. But wives and children aren't supposed to bear the burden of a husband immersed in spiritual studies. No lofty ideals are enough to excuse a husband from his obligation to support his family.

There are scholarships and donations, but the problem, in my opinion, is that they are divided among too many Torah students. My suggestion? The truly gifted scholars should be given scholarships that will allow them and their families to live decently. The rest should get professional training and continue studying Torah part-time as they can.

I know it can be difficult to determine who is talented enough, as we are talking about a spiritual realm, not mathematics. But personally, I see no other solution to take some of the burden off kollel wives' shoulders.