June 12, 2024
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June 12, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

So your son is finally out of the house, headed toward his dorm-in yeshiva! Finally! I mean, you love him, but it’s definitely better right now to love him from a distance. Like the sun. He’s your sun. And if he stays too close, you will erupt in flame.

But there are things to be aware of before you put him in a dorm. It’s not like you can just send him off and forget about him, unfortunately.

You’ll have to be on top of things incredibly ahead of time.

One thing about having a kid in the dorm is that you have to think about certain things way too far in advance. Like, “Oh, Chanukah is coming in 3 ½ weeks! You’re going to need a menorah!”

The stores don’t even have wicks yet. It’s Rosh Chodesh. I’m going to have to dig wick scraps out of last year’s leftovers and maybe buy oil in the baking goods aisle.

In fact, right at the beginning of the year, before you even send him the first time, you have to remember to send him with a Selichos. Selichos? I don’t think of Selichos for myself until about the Friday before Selichos starts.

He’ll have to figure out his own wakeup schedule.

Your son will need to figure out how to wake up in the mornings without you there to keep walking in to remind him to get up in various stages of dress.

I have a teenager who, a lot of this summer, routinely stays out really late at night playing basketball, and then he comes home late, goes to sleep late, and consequently wakes up late. And I reprimand him about it: “You have to get home earlier.”

“Why?”

So I explain: “You know why you wake up late? It’s because you go to bed late. And you know why you go to bed late? Because you wake up late!”

And he says, “I know. Why are you yelling at me about a schedule that I’m doing on purpose like it’s a problem? It’s only a problem because you’re yelling it.”

But in yeshiva, it is a problem, because there’s only one Shacharis for some reason. You’d think with all those people there could be more than one. Give more kids a chance to practice davening for the amud.

So they have to work out a sleep schedule—something that allows them to wake up at 7:30 so they can daven until about 8:30 so they can have breakfast until about 9:30. Even though every teenager would rather daven Shacharis at 8:30 and have no breakfast at all. Or have it during the mid-morning break at 11:15. This is a very antiquated system. In fact, there’s no reason that yeshivas can’t start two hours later and end two hours later. Everyone’s dorming. There are no carpools.

There are way more rules.

A dorming yeshiva has to have a lot of rules. And a lot of boys get frustrated by the rules. Though not my son. My son said early on, “I’m not going to break the rules. I’m going to help them create new ones!”

Like what do the rules not mention? Can I do construction? Can I have potted poison ivy plants in my room? Can I do evil science experiments?

Most of last year, he was determined to get a pet. In fact, he asked the menahel if they could get a cat. And the menahel clearly didn’t know what to say. It’s a lot easier if the kid doesn’t ask, and then he can confiscate the cat later. So the menahel said, “Um… the minhag hayeshiva is not to have pets.”

What minhag hayeshiva? Is this another way of saying, “No one’s asked me this before, so no”?

So my son said, “Well, can’t you just do Hataras Nedarim?”

I don’t think there are any yeshivas that start off with a pet: “This is going to be the minhag hayeshiva: Everyone’s going to have a pet. It’s going to be like Harry Potter. Let the dorm smell worse than it already does.”

He’ll need a constant influx of food. Or cash.

Yes, you’re paying a lot for meals, but your son is just not hungry during meals. And even during meals, he doesn’t actually like yeshiva food, because he’s used to eating much better home-cooked meals. Whose fault is that?

Maybe you should stop making things your kids like. It only causes problems.

But even the nights you made things that he didn’t like, you made him eat it anyway. No one in yeshiva is making your kids eat things anyway.

Why isn’t this one of the jobs of a dorm counselor?

And if you decide to be cost-efficient and send a ton of extra food to yeshiva with him, he’s going to go through all of it in his first week. Basically, you have to dole out the food little by little by finding rides for it with incoming parents. It actually does not pay to be organized.

“What do you mean, you used up your olive oil?! It’s not even Chanukah!”

“Someone had potatoes.”

Your entire limited relationship with him is going to be based around getting him clothing.

And I’m not talking about the fact that he’s always going to forget his suit. Both ways.

Bochurim grow in yeshiva. They constantly need clothes unexpectedly. Every single time your son comes home, you’re going to have to buy him clothing, sometime between 1 P.M. on a short Friday and about an hour after havdallah.

At least there’s an off-Shabbos. Bochurim want to make big, fun plans for the off-Shabbosos, but it’s basically just about buying clothing. And he has no idea that he grew; he comes home, and you say, “How come I can see your calves? Is there a flood in your dorm?!”

“Yeah, why?”

How is he growing so much? He’s not even eating!


Mordechai Schmutter is a freelance writer and a humor columnist for Hamodia and other magazines. He has also published eight books and does stand-up comedy. You can contact him at [email protected].

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