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How Do We Cope?

Editor’s Note: Rebbetzin Jungreis, a”h, is no longer with us in a physical sense, but her message is eternal and The Jewish Press will continue to present the columns that for more than half a century have inspired countless readers around the world.

How Do We Cope?

Dear Rebbetzin Jungreis,

I am writing to you at this time with a problem that I fear affects many families – some harder than others. Unfortunately, I find myself in the latter category. I am referring to financial setbacks.

Baruch Hashem, my husband has always been a highly successful businessman. When the market collapsed a few years ago we, like so many others, were badly hurt. But it wasn’t a knockout blow. While things weren't as good as in the past, we nevertheless managed to keep ourselves afloat. Recently, however, everything began going wrong. My husband had to downsize and was forced to let many of his employees go.

Frankly, I don't know how long he will be able to keep the business going. The situation grows worse with each passing day. It breaks my heart to see him come home with that beaten, depressed look on his face. I try to encourage him, but my words fall flat.

We have six children. Our oldest daughter is married with two little ones and living in Yerushalayim. Her husband, a wonderful young man, is learning, and we support them. We undertook this responsibility without hesitation, since we were confident we would have no difficulty providing for them. Who would ever have imagined that, overnight, we would have experienced such a financial disaster? 

Now, as if all this were not enough, we have a 19-year-old daughter who is in the shidduch parshah. She is a lovely girl with much yiras shamayim and, like her older sister, wants a husband who will learn, which of course means financial support from us. This past summer she came back from a year of study in Yerushalayim. We have been in touch with shadchanim but I know you are aware, Rebbetzin, of how difficult it is to find a proper shidduch nowadays.

It seems to me there are always more good girls than good boys around, and finding the right one is no simple matter. I know full well that if a boy's family finds out a girl's parents cannot lend support, the boy will be urged to look elsewhere. And when word gets out, good shidduch recommendations will disappear. So here, too, we have a dilemma: how much to tell, how much to hold back.

When our older daughter got married, we made her a beautiful wedding, but there is no way we can equal that now. It hurts me to think we cannot give this child what we gave to the other. I have become such a nervous wreck. I am depressed, short tempered, and feel trapped.

It isn’t only our older children’s support we have to contend with, but also yeshiva tuitions, camp fees, etc., for the younger ones – not to mention our day-to-day living expenses.

My husband and I have not yet mustered the strength to inform our daughter and son-in-law that we will not be able to continue our support, nor have we told our single daughter that we will not be able to do for her what we did for her older sister. Of course they are aware we are having financial difficulties but they have such confidence in their father. They are convinced that somehow, as in the past, Tatty will pull them through.

Although we've avoided informing them of our predicament, my husband feels   we can no longer keep it to ourselves. I just don't know how to tell them without causing them stress and anxiety.

As I mentioned I'm very worried about my husband. He looks terrible. He comes home late at night and leaves early in the morning. He has high blood pressure and all the stress he is experiencing is not doing him any good. For a while we thought that even if the business folded we'd be okay, since my husband and a friend invested in a major real estate project that was supposed to be a sure thing. Unfortunately, that too collapsed. They couldn't get the necessary financing and everything my husband invested was lost.

I've thought about getting a job to help out, but I have always been a stay-at-home mom and wouldn't even know where to begin. As you can imagine, the situation is very frightening.

I realize this is not an area in which you or any other human being can help. Only Hashem can help us get out of this one. Still, I thought I would unburden myself to you because have been such a powerful source of inspiration and strength, not only to me but to all of Klal Yisrael.

To Be Continued