Second Thoughts on Working From Home

Joel Rebibo’s “On Second Thought” articles are one of my favorite columns. I appreciate his candid and usually upbeat perspective on happenings in Eretz Yisrael.

While I admire his effort to find the positive lessons from this corona period, I must take issue with his characterization of working from home as something we should consider continuing when this nightmare will finally end.

While for those people with spacious homes that include a private office, working from home may have some benefits, for the many of us who live in small, cramped spaces, it is an extremely stressful and tension-producing experience. It puts us in an impossible situation of having to choose between our responsibility to be faithful and honest employees — who are fully utilizing the hours we are getting paid to work — and being there for our spouses and children when they really need us. It is one thing to block out issues at home when you are miles away, but to be right there in the living room and ignore the needs of a wife who needs help coping with young children who have been too long out of school can be a wrenching experience.

Then there are those of us who were moser nefesh for years not to bring internet into our homes and now have had to shatter this powerfully protective wall. Being able to get rid of the internet connection is alone a good enough reason to want to never work from the house again.

Name Withheld, Brooklyn, N.Y.

Mr. Rebibo responds:

Thank you for your letter.

You’re right. My suggestion that we continue working from home in order to use the travel time for learning is not practical for everyone. But for those who could find a quiet corner in their homes — and even young parents are at a certain stage sending all the children out to their various day programs — I think working from home, even a few days a week, would present a big opportunity.

Insofar as internet in the home, that’s a very important issue. The key is presenting the pros and cons to Rabbanim who understand our individual situations and acting in accordance with their advice.

May we see a speedy end to this nightmare, as you correctly call it.