A halachic query directed at Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv illustrated the dire situation of ultra-Orthodox parents in a financial bind faced with meeting their children's wedding costs.
A yeshiva student from Jerusalem whose daughter is about to marry asked the distinguished Lithuanian rabbi whether he could sell a kidney in order to purchase an apartment for the young couple, and was naturally denied.
Haredi weekly paper "Mishpacha" reported Thursday of a rabbinic conference held in Jerusalem last week regarding the cutting down of wedding costs in which Rehovot Rabbi Simcha Hakohen Kook spoke of the strange question posed at Rabbi Elyashiv who had told him of the matter.
The Lithuanian spiritual leader, who was mortified at the financial state reached by the yeshiva students' families, said that instead of seeking wedding and wedding-related funds, they should be cut back considerably. The rabbis who organized the meeting are devising a plan to address the problem.
Rabbi Kook also expressed a concern regarding charity loans which currently support many families in funding their celebratory occasions.
An additional speaker at the conference illustrated the severe state of affairs by describing a man who could not meet the financial obligations of a young couple, who consequently reached a state of "pikuach nefesh." He also related the story of a yeshiva student who had just gotten married and sued his father under the Jewish law for similar circumstances.
The speaker said that Rabbi Yehuda Leib Steinman had told him that those who encourage young men to make financial demands of family members were "murderers" since they induce brides' parents to jeopardize their health and future.
Head of the prestigious Yad Aharon Lithuanian yeshiva Rabbi Yehoshua Eichenstein claimed that many fathers who are "scholars" leave the Beit Midrash in order to seek funding for their undertakings. He claimed that the situation must be changed immediately.