By K. G.
Often times, we wistfully wish we didn’t have to shoulder the tremendously high expenses of raising a frum family in the US today. Large families, kosher food, tuition, bar mitzvahs, chasunahs, tzniusdike clothing, shaitels, summer camps, shul memberships, mikvah, etc. all add up. If we compare ourselves to an average US family, our cost of living must be at least double or triple the national average.
Add to that the fact that we get a late start to our careers because of the time (well) spent in kollel, and that we don’t go to college while we are bochurim, which causes our incomes to be lower, at least at the outset.
Yes, we are at a great disadvantage, and even without any special circumstances we struggle much more than most everyone else.
It could be that the main reason for this setup is due to the way Hashem issues judgment. The ultimate reward is in the World to Come, not down here. However, those who are wicked will not experience the reward in the next world, and instead they will suffer eternal punishment. So down here they receive reward for the few good deeds they have done. Of course, it is far better to get rewarded in the World to Come for the good deeds one does and to suffer here in this world for one’s wrongdoings.
Accordingly, it follows that we, frum Yidden, will suffer far greater in this world compared to the other nations. Since it is impossible for the nations not to have done some good deeds and likewise impossible for the Yidden not to have sinned, the nations must be rewarded for their good here in this world, while the Yidden have to be cleansed from their evil here in this world (see Ramban at the beginning of Shaar HaGmul).
Until recently, Yidden suffered physical torment from the nations – inquisitions, holocausts, Soviet oppression, pogroms, etc. That was their cleansing in this world. Today, we suffer none of these. Has something fundamentally changed in the way Hashem deals with us?
I suggest that our economic woes and struggles are the suffering for today’s generation. This is our method of cleansing for our wrongdoings. Our job, then, is to accept the burden with love and with the realization that it is for our ultimate good.