This is a subject I wanted to touch upon when I wrote my last post, but time simply did not permit, so here I am now. The skeptical question of “how can you afford so many children?” is often simply answered by, “God provides,” and this, in return, gets a lot of raised eyebrows. “Don’t you think it’s irresponsible to simply trust God?”; “Don’t you think it’s careless to venture forward and have baby after baby without a sound financial plan?”
Yes, having children costs money. Not as much as some would have us believe. I cannot give you exact numbers right now, but I do know for sure that in the three years since we became parents, we have only spent a fraction of what we were “supposed to.” And yes, there is such a thing as financial wisdom, and I believe we all ought to work towards acquiring it and acting upon it.
But all this doesn’t change the fact that the ultimate key to plenty or poverty is in the hands of G-d.
We have experienced it both ways. Miraculously, things we needed – and even many things we wanted, but thought of as luxuries – found their way to us at exactly the moment we needed them, without costing us anything. Furniture, clothes, household supplies, electric appliances… things too numerous to mention. Lucky finds, generous gifts, creative solutions. It was too much to be a coincidence, and truly, I cannot speak of this phenomenon as anything but a miracle. However, we have also suffered sudden financial losses which in no way could be expected or prevented.
What am I trying to say, then? Wisdom, knowledge, self-reliance, responsibility and resourcefulness are good things. Very, very good and worthy, but they can only take us so far.
We can juggle numbers, argue, and prove that in many ways, raising a family is really not as expensive as it is cracked up to be – but the bottom line, the underlying motive, is that something really exists that is bigger than all our plans, and that a gracious hand is always extended to those who seek to hold on to it. Many people would probably say that we “cannot afford” to have children at all, yet here we are, and yes, with all the rational frugality and good sense, sometimes a miracle is needed. And it is alright to trust we will not be abandoned.
I live in Israel, where the largest slice of society with many children is the Haredi. “Well, and look at them!” knowing ones would say. “They all aim to have a dozen children, and they are so poor!” That is so, but I do not believe there is a direct cause-effect relationship. I believe that in their case, the problem is in the disproportionally large percentage of men who opt to study Torah full-time and bring home only a meager stipend, while their wives provide. Even so, their families are respectable, and their children, generally, well-fed, properly dressed and given an education.
We have experienced, we live our life in the overwhelming charity and benevolence of G-d. I know He expects us to be responsible financially, and we try our hardest to be. But I also know He has shown us that His hands are open, and I trust that they will ever continue to be open to us.