I have a neighbor here who is an amazing guy. He's a member of the local Hatzalah. He's always the first on the block to do a chesed for someone. He's a real go-getter when it comes to doing things for other people. When it comes to bein adam lachaveiro, this gentleman is one of the best that there is.
As for his bein adam lamakom, I can't comment. I don't know how much kavanah he has when he davens. But what I do know is that he learns during the day. The problem is that this isn't what he wants to be doing.
Oh, don't get me wrong... he'll always learn no matter what he does throughout his life. I highly doubt that the day will ever come when he won't open up a sefer of his own free volition. But he doesn't want to be a "learner." What he wants to be is a doctor.
The man is in love with the idea of medicine. That's probably what convinced him to become a member of Hatzalah to begin with. He's spent plenty of time telling my husband that he would love to be a doctor and be able to help heal the sick. With his brains, compassion, empathy and the medical skill he's demonstrated so far, I think he'd make a heck of a doctor. So, what's the problem?
Well, the problem is that he is totally ill-equipped to begin the process. Having learned in a yeshiva that didn't have English studies, he has no high school diploma. Even if he gets his GED, he'd have to find a way to qualify for college and then (assuming he graduates) into medical school. For certain, there would be financial considerations that are difficult to overcome (med school ain't cheap) but that's not the biggest problem.
The biggest problem is that he's "stuck" in yeshiva. The pressure on him from his wife, family and community are far too great for him to ever be able to "break free." He's afraid to leave the yeshiva because of what his colleagues will think about him, but all the more, because of what his family and wife will think of him. His wife doesn't want a "modern" husband who goes to college... she married a "learner." His parents didn't raise him to be a "college guy," they raised him to be a ben torah which, by (their) definition, means one who does not seek out "goyish" education.
Lastly, there's the issue of "culture shock." Could he withstand going from a sheltered, insular community to the college and med school campus? My personal feeling, based on what I know of him, it would be difficult. He would encounter such alien ideas that, in my opinion, his head would probably explode.
It's a shame because my husband tells me that the guy is miserable. While he likes learning, it's not the type of thing that he wants to do ten hours a day. He would love to become a doctor, but because of the society in which he was raised, he's been "trapped" in a place where the only way he could achieve his dream is to leave everything he's ever known behind. What a waste of a good potential doctor.
I suppose this is a part of the reason that I'm considering leaving the fold myself. I don't see how a healthy community system can prevent people from acheiving their dreams (provided of course, that their dreams are within halacha). How can a society morally stop people from becoming doctors, dentists, architechts, etc.? How can a group of people decide that it's better that no one gets an education and that there is only one acceptable occupation -- Torah learner? Is this really the sign of a healthy society? Is this what I want my daughter to grow up to? Do I want her to be placed on the "mommy track" with absolutely no hope of escape? No! I want her to become all that she can be. I want her to be able to reach for the stars and at least have the opportunity to try to grab them. I don't want her to end up bound in the system that thinks that ignorance is knowledge.