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Taking Stock

Shimmy Blum

As the heavenly ledgers are opened, our deeds weighed, and our monetary allotment for the upcoming year determined, Rav Yitzchok Sorotzkin probes the budgetary priorities of a society grappling to find financial clarity

Monday, September 26, 2011

“I once watched an extremely wealthy Yid being served a meal. I was expecting to see a royal feast, but was shocked to see him served two boiled  potatoes and a glass of milk. I was informed that he had developed ulcers due to his stress and was unable to eat heavier food. Is it worth killing  yourself to be rich in order to eat boiled potatoes?”

Rav Yitzchok Sorotzkin shlit”a, Rosh Yeshivah of Telshe and Mesivta of Lakewood, doesn’t mince words when it comes to dealing head-on with the  financial issues that have bombarded our communities in recent years.

Rav Sorotzkin brings decades of brilliant shiurim and a gadol’s breadth of Torah and hashkafah to bnei Torah and balabatim alike. And one topic that  holds a prominent place in the Rosh Yeshivah’s heart is the lifestyle that our communities adhere to outside the walls of the beis medrash — in our  homes, stores, and wedding halls.

How far do people need to stretch themselves financially? Will children feel deprived if their parents suddenly adopt austerity measures? Rav Sorotzkin  — the son of the beloved Teshe Rosh Yeshivah Rav Boruch Sorotzkin ztz”l, scion of one of the world’s foremost Torah families, and author of the  Gevuras Yitzchok and Rinas Yitzchok seforim series — has gained a reputation as a trailblazer due to his willingness to address these and other  complex financial issues. As one year comes to a close and another begins with its own determined amount of financial stability and prosperity, Rav Sorotzkin believes that — personal blessings  notwithstanding — it’s time to trim down our budgets.


With all the important issues facing our community today, why does the Rosh Yeshivah believe that the topic of monetary restraint deserves such focus?Hashem wants to see what we do with our  money. Unfortunately, our communities have gotten accustomed to an extravagant lifestyle, far above how most of the goyim around us live. You have peopleearning $250,000 a year who say that they just can’t  make ends meet, when there are other families who manage on a fraction of that amount. This lifestyle creates a tremendous pressure on others within our communities to keep up, which understandably puts  an enormous strain on individuals and families. The Lakewood mashgiach, Rav Nosson Wachtfogel ztz”l, said that the nisayon of our generation is the nisayon of affluence.”



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