I was asked by a reader to give my opinion about women working outside the home in order to support their husbands while the men dedicate most of their time to religious studies.
For those of you who don't know, these situations are common particularly in strictly observant, very conservative and very traditional Orthodox Jewish communities. Supporting one's husband while he studies Torah all day long is considered a virtue, a merit, a peak of spirituality and self-sacrifice. That's why I understand that some of the things I'm going to say might go down badly; but still, on this little corner of the web, I'll allow myself to voice my humble opinion.
To give you a better perspective, I'll mention that birth control is usually out of the question in these communities, and so having 8, 10, 12 or more children isn't uncommon. Are you starting to see what's bothering me here? Exactly. Imagine you are a mother of 10 children, a homemaker, AND a PRIMARY wage-earner. Doesn't it seem like a wee bit too much?
Just because something is normal in religious, traditional Jewish communities doesn't make it good and right in my eyes. Yes, Jewish men are commanded to study the Torah. But where does it say that studying the Torah liberates men from the obligation to provide for their families?
In my eyes, the Torah is the perfect guide for a pure, holy life. It wasn't meant for theoretical learning alone. How can a man continue studying full-time while he sees his wife is nearly collapsing under the unbearable workload?
Please note I never said that working outside the home for women is sinful as of itself. But working "by the sweat of his brow" is a curse given to the man, not the woman. Women are called to be wives, mothers and homemakers. How on earth are they expected to pull it all off while also providing for a husband, and maintain their physical and emotional health?