The Obligation of Parents for their Children’s Education

  1. And I will punish all that oppress them.” Even those responsible for collecting charity will be punished for forcing contributions from the poor, except for the payment of school fees so that their children can learn Torah and Mishnah. (Midrash Rabbah, Parshas Emor 30)
  2. A person is obligated to hire a teacher to teach his son Torah. If he does not, the court can compel him to do so. If he is not in the city, his property can be appropriated to cover the cost. If a person is so poor that he is unable to pay school fees, the rabbis require the community to bear the cost of teaching his children.
  3. Many do not realize the importance of paying school fees, and, after spending money on other things, claim that they lack the means to pay. Paying for the Torah education of a son should have the highest priority, for a father is obligated by the Torah to teach his son Torah. If he is unable to teach his son himself, he can fulfil his obligation by paying a teacher. When the teacher whom a father hires instructs his son, it is as though he were instructing his son himself. A father that does not pay the school fee nullifies this positive commandment of the Torah. His son is being educated by others, not by him.
  4. When school fees are paid on time, the father fulfils the positive commandment of “pay him his due on its day,” for then the principal of the school can pay his teachers on time. This also benefits the students, for when the teachers are paid on time, and their financial affairs are in order, they are more at ease and better able to teach.
  5. “A person’s income for the year is fixed on Rosh Hashanah except for fees paid to teach his sons Torah. If they are diminished, his income is diminished. If they are increased, his income is increased.” (Betizah 16a)
  6. In many seforim it is written that when a father pays his school fees on time, it is a sign that his son will be a talmid chacham and yarei Shamaim.
  7. If a father fails to pay the school fee to teach his son Torah, the teacher must nevertheless continue to teach his son.
  8. Even if a teacher is not paid on time, it is forbidden for him to arrive late to school or to neglect his teaching is any way.

MDhalachalMaase is written by HaRav HaGaon R’ Shammai Gross
Translated by Rabbi Tzvi Abraham