May a religious woman with a husband and children pursue a career outside of her home?
It depends on the amount of children and it depends on what kind of a career. If it’s a career of being a teacher in the Bais Yaakov seminary and she has so far only one or two or three children then it’s quite plausible that she could succeed. But when the children increase then I think it’s impossible for her to carry out her most important career as a mother unless she’s home.
Now these things depend on variables. Now you’ll forgive me; I don’t mean to hurt anybody’s feelings, but I’m afraid there are some people who are devoted to careers, who because of that they forgo the opportunity to have more children — I’m very much afraid. And if that’s the case, it doesn’t pay. If a woman wants her husband to become an adam gadol, a rosh yeshivah, and she decides to work all her life to support him while he becomes a great man and as a result she willfully prevents childbirth, so her life is a failure. And her husband’s Torah is not Torah. I’m afraid this happens.
A Satmarer young man who works in a factory and he has ten children is more of a kadosh than the big rosh yeshivah who climbed up to greatness on the ladder of contraception. A man who sweats bezayas apo, to make a honest living and to support a big family, that man is an eved Hashem.
Now, if you can do both, if you can have a big family and you can keep on learning and become a gadol baTorah, so it’s a blessing, a brachah kefulah umekupeles; but it absolutely does not pay to sacrifice a generation of Jewish children just for the sake that you should become a gadol baTorah.
Now, if a man leaves home like Rabbi Akiva to study Torah, it’s a different story. Leaving home and suffering privation, loneliness; he’s permitted to do that for greatness if his wife gives him permission
But this man lives with his wife! He’s not practicing celibacy – he’s practicing birth control. And this doesn’t pay. And even if he’ll make the biggest chiburim and people will study his Torah works, it’s not worth it; it’s nowhere near what he would have accomplished if he would have spent his life raising children in a full Torah home.
Now, to finish answering the question: If the career outside the home entails going into bad company it doesn’t pay. It does not pay for a girl to ruin her soul for the sake of her kollel husband. She should be among chatzufim and reshaim?! Sometimes they do very terrible things to pious women in the offices. They come over to them and do very fresh things. And the fact that the pious woman doesn’t succumb is not enough. Because there remains a stain on her soul, however. So it doesn’t pay.
A girl who says she’ll go to college for the sake of supporting a kollel man, it’s also a fake. It doesn’t pay. And your neshama is nothing?! Only a male neshama is a neshama?! So you’ll pollute your soul and go among denigrates for years?! For years you have to go get a degree in order to make some money so that your husband should become a bigger lamdan! It doesn’t pay.
So if you can work in an Orthodox factory, in a tzitzis factory let’s say, among Orthodox people, all right; you’re doing it to keep your husband going. As long as you don’t sacrifice children! It doesn’t pay to sacrifice childbirth for that.
So there are a number of variables there.
TAPE #149 (December 1976)