Yeshiva Tuition

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About 10 years ago, I think in ’94, R. Feivel Cohen (author of the Badei Ha-Shulhan) returned from a convention of Agudath Israel of America somewhat upset. It seems that there was a big discussion at the convention about what some were calling a “tuition crisis.” R. Cohen pointed out that the Gemara in Beitzah 16a states the following:

All of one’s livelihood is determined from Rosh Hashanah through Yom Kippur except for what one spends on Shabbos, on holidays, and one’s children’s Torah education because [for these three things] if one reduces [the expense] they reduce [one’s income] and if one adds [to the expense] they add to one’s income.

Clearly, said R. Cohen, there cannot be a tuition crisis. The more you pay for tuition, the more one receives as income to make up for that expense. At least according to the Gemara and “We know what we call people who do not believe what the Gemara says.”

I suggested to him that secular education, transportation and other incidental items are probably not covered by this promise but he disagreed. Because they are necessary for the Torah education, they are also included in this promise.

R. Hershel Schachter, via TorahWeb, makes the same point. Pay the tuitions and have faith. If you need to reduce other expenses, that would have happened anyway.

While he does not say this, I would say that the Torah education of one’s children is so important that one should make do without what are considered necessities in today’s world. Sell your furniture to pay for tuition; eat tuna from a can for 7 days a week; wear second-hand clothing. Nothing should come before giving your children the best Torah education possible. Our grandparents understood this importance of education. How did we forget it?

About Gil Student

Rabbi Gil Student is the Editor of TorahMusings.com, a leading website on Orthodox Jewish scholarly subjects, and the Book Editor of the Orthodox Union’s Jewish Action magazine. He writes a popular column on issues of Jewish law and thought featured in newspapers and magazines, including The Jewish Link, The Jewish Echo and The Vues. In the past, he has served as the President of the small Jewish publisher Yashar Books and as the Managing Editor of OU Press. Rabbi Student currently is serving his third term on the Executive Committee of the Rabbinical Council of America and also serves as the Director of the Halacha Commission of the Rabbinical Alliance of America. He serves on the Editorial Board of Jewish Action magazineand the Board of OU Press. He has published four English books, the most recent titled Search Engine volume 2: Finding Meaning in Jewish Texts -- Jewish Leadership, and served as the American editor for Morasha Kehillat Yaakov: Essays in Honour of Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks.

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