Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Yeshiva Tuition

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?

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