Posts tagged " career "

What does the Bible say about moms working outside the home?

August 14th, 2018 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 29 comments

What does Ancient Jewish wisdom aka the Bible say about moms? I am naturally a hard working professional however I am also a relatively new mom.

My husband provides, I stay home with my 1 and 3 year olds. If I did work we could make some upgrades.

This topic wasn’t mentioned in Business Secrets from the Bible. What do you say about it?

Amber T.

Dear Amber,

What does the Bible say? The assumption underlying the Bible’s prescription for life is that if each person fulfills his or her obligations, the society will prosper. The basic component of the society is the family, not the individual (though of course there are provisions for those who are alone). Together, a man and a woman make a unit where each of them and any associated children can physically, emotionally and economically thrive. The unit suffers if both husband and wife do exactly the same things, just as a business partnership where each partner does exactly the same as the other would make no sense.

To this end, in the Torah, women are not obligated with most of the positive, time-bound commandments. What does this mean? Women, like men, may not murder, steal or gossip. These are negative commandments. The Torah  obligates women to observe the Sabbath and eat kosher. But commandments that require one to be somewhere or do things in a time-limited manner, such as appearing at the Temple in Jerusalem (or today in synagogue) or even being forced to testify in a court case, are not incumbent upon women. The idea is that a woman is not asked to do anything that would conflict with her ability to care for her household and children. That is her primary responsibility.


My husband is holding me back

April 10th, 2018 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 23 comments

Dear Rabbi and Susan,

We have an opportunity to increase our family income by double. We currently make about 40K a year between my husband and I.

I was accepted into a one year program that would give me the skills and connections to make between 50-80k a year myself excluding my husbands income. We would have to move about 500 miles away from our families and where we were both born but only for a year and then we could decide where to go after that.

My husband doesn’t want me to accept. He isn’t one for change and hates California, he doesn’t want to live there even for a year… I want to honor him and I understand that making more than him could cause some strain on our marriage… am I wrong for wanting this? I’m trying not to be bitter… but I’ve always been a bit ambitious and the idea of turning this opportunity down has caused me some internal struggle.

Cynthia S. 

Dear Cynthia,

You sound like a sincere and sensitive woman who is trying her hardest to cope with a difficult challenge.  Our usual disclaimer applies even more to you and your dilemma:  Since we don’t know any of our ‘Ask the Rabbi’ letter-writers personally we can hope only to raise discussion points that will be helpful along with perhaps a few considerations that you may not have yet contemplated.  We also have great confidence in our readers and know that they often contribute valuable comments.  We always read them with great interest.

You clearly recognize many of the valid concerns involved, including some that conflict with one another. You are aware of the need to respect your husband and of the potential threat to your marriage that earning more than he does can impose. You are also aware of the importance of every individual, man or woman, making the most of his or her talents, abilities and opportunities.

A number of things are unclear from your letter.  You mention that between you both, you earn $40K.  Is that half each?  Or is it mostly your husband’s earnings or mostly yours?  A joint income of $40,000 doesn’t go very far these days, yet you don’t suggest that you are struggling. Is your husband on a path to higher earnings or is he content with things as they are?  Do you feel that you are more ambitious than he is?


Tacking to Success

October 5th, 2010 Posted by Susan's Musings No Comment yet

Has a five year old ever told you that he is going to be a fireman, doctor and president of the U.S.? I bet that you didn’t begin to lecture him on the realities of life. Likewise when a little girl says that she plans to be a ballerina, lawyer, surgeon and mommy we don’t feel the need to explain how one choice might preclude another.

If a twenty-year old told you the same thing, you would probably react differently. At the very least you would think that he or she needs a reality check. You would also probably be pretty unimpressed with the speaker. Most of us understand the need to focus in order to achieve. Getting a broad education and being conversant in many areas is admirable, but the phrase, “Jack of all trades, master of none,” is generally not seen as complimentary. An Internet search revealed a number of phrases like this Estonian one, “Üheksa ametit, kümnes nälg” (“Nine trades, the tenth one – starvation”).

To a young person setting out on a career path, this reality can seem incredibly limiting. I was recently talking to an impressive young man who was discovering that even making a career choice, as he did by going to law school, was only the beginning. More apparently constricting decisions were needed each step along the way as he chose classes and eventually applied for an internship in a particular area of law.

Many areas today do require that type of narrowing of focus. But that is not a comprehensive picture. As with so many aspects of life, both a microscope and a broad lens are needed. Years ago, when we added two rooms to our house, we had a wonderful experience, despite all the horror stories we had heard about construction. Our contractor was a gem and the finishing touch was when he presented our children with a story he had written, featuring them all.  It turned out that Dennis had been a professor of English who changed careers. I also have a friend whose husband became a teacher after practicing medicine for over twenty years. Certainly, changing specialties within a field is common practice.

One lesson of sailing is that sometimes you need to move in the wrong direction to get where you want to be. To a novice, tacking (zigzagging back and forth) looks like wasted effort, but when the wind is head on, the longer path is the only effective one. Furthermore, in life, we aren’t always sure exactly where we want to end up, at least professionally. What we think will be a final destination sometimes turns out to be a way station. As long as you are moving, you can get where you want to be. An unwillingness to commit to a decision leaves us in the doldrums, with no momentum to propel us forward.

As our five year olds mature, they will come to forks in the road and need to step on one or the other path.  Paradoxically, whatever direction they take can loop around to an entirely different one as long as they commit themselves diligently to the task at hand. Rather than narrowing their options, if granted the blessing of time, mastery of any field can ease the way towards mastery of another one.


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