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I recently came across an article describing the situation in Israel where in order to finalize an engagement, the parents have to pay for an entire apartment (not just a down payment, the whole price). It also described the anguish involved, where parents must go into debt, or even move out of their own apartment to do this, and if they don't the shuidduch is canceled.

My question is... is there a difference between different communities in this (i.e. Chabad, etc.). The article said only that it affects the "haredi" (i.e. not Mordern Orthodox) communities, but I'm thinking maybe it's not all parts of the haredi community.

If there are Chasidic groups that don't follow this, are there statements from the Rebbe that outline what should be done?

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I'm going on hearsay here, but I'm pretty sure that there are indeed varying practices in this regard - some in which an entire apartment is paid for, others in which contributions toward the apartment are made, and others still in which two apartments are provided (one to live in and one to hire out). –  WAF Dec 28 '10 at 15:18
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@WAF, is there any practice where you don't have to give anything, esp if you are forcing your parents into poverty? Doesn't kibbud av v'em figure in? And forgetting about all halacha... don't these "newlyweds" have human decency regarding their own parents? –  Desert Star Dec 28 '10 at 17:21
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@Desert Star I do not endorse the practices I've mentioned from a standpoint of halacha or practicality. I cannot claim to know to what degree the practitioners of these practices consider such things in their important life decisions. –  WAF Dec 28 '10 at 18:18
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2 Answers

Tough question.

There's a shiur on yutorah citing a responsum whether a grown child can pester his parents for money. The halacha is that once a child is old enough to go out on their own (I believe the Israeli rabbinic courts will put that at 15 or 16), the parent has no hard-and-fast obligation to support them anymore, though continued support for their spiritual growth is considered meritorious (and counts towards charity tithes). It is appropriate for a father to offer some kind of dowry so his daughter is more likely to get married, but that's a different discussion. Thus the parents have no obligation to fund a grown child, so it's a violation of Halacha to emotionally pain your parents by pestering them.

What happens today has nothing to do with halacha. The sad truth is, who doesn't want to see their daughters happy/married/happily married? And well, in a certain world in Israel, many guys won't consider your daughter unless you can buy him an apartment.

I've heard that the Gerrer Rebbe, showing fiscal leadership, has banned young couples from moving into apartments in the most expensive neighborhoods of Jerusalem and Bnei Brak, they need to start out in cheaper places; even if this couple could legitimately afford it, then the next couple could almost afford it, and before you know it, that's become the norm and expectation to which everyone is pushed.

Unsurprisingly, in communities where people are working for a living, there's less need (and therefore less pressure) for the parents' buying an apartment; additionally, in communities where singles meet on their own, Baruch Hashem men and women meet and decide they like each other and want to get married, instead of holding anyone's lives up for ransom via complicated monetary arrangements.

I've also heard (and again this is hearsay, pardon me if my language is strong here) that the Hassidic community in Israel has generally fared better in openness towards working for a living than the Ultra-Orthodox "Lithuanian" community. The former understands it's a movement for the masses; the latter is still putting everyone through the grinder, trying to produce a handful of super-great scholars.

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My understanding from talking to people and learning in various Kollels here in Israel, is that it is primarily a Lithuanian Haredi thing, though some branches of Hassidic Haredim hold by the same practice, and it is not practiced at all in the Sephardi community.

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Do you know about Chabad? –  Desert Star Dec 28 '10 at 19:35
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No I don't. I have very little to do with Chabad. The only actual Lubavitchers I Know here, their children are already passed that age, and we have never discussed it. The US Lubavitchers don't have that custom. Whereas the US Litvaks, many of them do. –  Rabbi Michael Tzadok Dec 29 '10 at 7:01
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