Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Yeshiva Tuition - Updated

The gemara in Beitzah daf 16a states as follows:
כל מזונותיו של אדם קצובים לו מראש השנה עד ראש השנה חוץ מהוצאת שבתות והוצאות י"ט והוצאת בניו לתלמוד תורה
The income of a person is fixed from one Rosh Hashana to the next except for what he spends on shabbos, yom tov, and the Torah education of his sons

From this gemara we see that whatever a person spends to teach his sons torah, Hashem will pay back and is not considered part of his income. In other words, if his income was set at $x and he paid $y for his son's torah education he will still end up with $x dollars, the same would apply if he spent $0 on his son's torah education he would still end up with $x. This would seem to imply that tuition payments for boys do not take away from a person's income. Of course, the Gemara was talking about Torah education and since tuition includes payment for secular studies as well that would not be included. In addition, the Gemara only talks about boys where you have a chiyuv to teach them Torah, however, by girls since there is no chiyuv the money spent would come from your income.

This is just food for thought. This gemara should make everyone think twice about how they view their income and their plans to increase it.

Update


I see that Gil has posted about this topic as well Yeshiva Tuition. He refers to an article by RHS Straightening Out Our Priorities where he also brings down this gemara. The whole article is well worth reading but I will quote RHS conclusion.

On a communal level, we have lost our bearings regarding what is a normal and proper lifestyle, and what is an opulent and improper one[8]. In that context, some Orthodox people spend large sums of money on non-essentials without making yeshiva tuition a top priority, and consequently want to send their children to public school to save money. We, too, need Moshe Rabbeinu’s rebuke! What an unfortunate confusion of priorities! Our children are immeasurably more valuable than our homes and all other material possessions. If we really believed G-d that the Torah is the “kli chemdah” (Avos 3:18), and that observance of the mitzvos is the wish of the Creator of the world, how could we possibly be so lax regarding the Torah education of our children?

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

Bluke, it's silly to even try to think in these terms as mere mortals. Let's say I sit back and work 3 hours a day and earn just enough to cover Shabbos, Yom Tov and tuition, but I can't afford the rent. Clearly God did not mean for me to have a place to live this year. Let's say I get a decent job -- God meant for me to have a decent living. Let's say I already have a decent job, but push a bit harder this year and get a bonus. So God meant for me to have that bonus too. And if I run a successful campaign to somehow or other (gov't support or firing administrators) lower the tuition burden, then God meant for me to have all that extra disposable income, too. So what's your point?

bluke said...

My real point was to get people to think about where their money comes from (including myself). People who work often forget where the money really comes from and think כחי ועוצם ידי. I did not expect anyone to change their lifestyle based on this.

In fact, I have heard many mussar shmuessen that people shouldn't work so hard. Do the minimal hishtadlus that is needed to get by and that is it. This is what the Chazon Ish writes in Emuna U'Bitachon. This is a very difficult thing for many people including myself.

dave said...

According to the Chovos Halevovos, a person should act as if he is in charge, (meaning doing everything bderech hatevah do earn a parnassah,) but in his heart believe that it all comes from Hashem. In other words, as explained by Rabbi Avigdor Miller ZT"L, don't work 2 hours a day and then sit back & expect to get everything from Shomayim. That's just an excuse to be lazy. I don't know what minimal hishtadlus means. I suppose it depends on the person's madreigah, but people certainly take advantage of that concept.

Anonymous said...

I'm thankful to God for the events leading up to me getting my good job, and I'm thankful to God for the overall economic situation which allows my employer to continue employing me, and I'm thankful to God for my good health which allows me to keep working, but I do allow myself a Kochi V'Otzem Yadi feeling for the effort I put in, and maybe even for the extra effort that had a part in convincing my boss to give me a bonus. But maybe I only have thanks for God because I'm not a master economist, so I don't know that the economic situation was inevitable, and maybe I only have thanks for God because I'm not an expert physician or epidemiologist to show why I am in good health and haven't been felled by flu or worse.

Rebeljew said...

If this were true bluke, then why all the complaining about lifestyles. How can you say that the reason people cannot pay 30K+ tuitions per year is because they spend too much on luxuries. The luxuries on a separate cheshbon, according to this philosophy, nu?
For that matter, how can a person ever not afford tuition? He should borrow and it will always be paid of by the end of the year, regardless of his 10 vacations to Aruba.

Nobody said...

"The luxuries on a separate cheshbon, according to this philosophy, nu?"

You are given the money, how you spend it is still a matter of free choice. Besides, as a practical matter (as bluke pointed out), a lot of the money doesn't go towards learning Torah.

Besides, things still go in a natural order. We still have to work with the money we anticipate having. The point is to not confuse that with a materialistic cause-and-effect (as anonymous does above).

Rebeljew said...

So in other words, nobody, the whole philosophy is meaningless. It is true but never applicable. Money that we spend on Yeshiva, which is not part of the chok yomi, cannot be distinguished from that which is part of the chok yomi.

"You are given the money, how you spend it is still a matter of free choice."
But by definition, he chose to spend it on Yeshiva, so it is not part of the account.

So the logic only works if you etherealize it. X makes 75000. He spends 30000 on Yeshiva. He spends 10000 on Shabbos and Yom Tov. Taxed 20000 (all income, property tax and licenses etc.). G-d gave him 15000 to feed, house and clothe his family of 8 (or 10, or 12) for a year, and the rest did not count. Is that how it works? Where did G-d take economics?

Nobody said...

"So in other words, nobody, the whole philosophy is meaningless."

No, just not predictive. It discusses why and how Parnassa comes about, not how you make decisions about it. The impact of the philosophy (for me anyway) is that it speaks to how to prioritize a conflict.

Not unlike saying that parnasa comes from Hashem. That doesn't change the need to work. Or that healing comes from Hashem. That doesn't change the need to go to the doctor.

However, all the work in the world, and all the doctors visits in the world, will not help without Hashem. You have to take care of the Torah and Mitzvos part of the equation as well. Such an outlook changes one's attitude when there is a conflict between Torah and a materialistic view.

"I can't make ends meet this year, so I will send my child to public school" is in violation of that philosophy. One can expect to not see amilioration in the finantial situation, as either less money will come in, or other unexpected expenses will come along to even it out.

Reminds me of a story of someone who was stuck on a roof during a flood. A rowboat came by and offered to help. The person said "G-d will save me." A second rowboat comes by, same reaction. Then a helicopter. Same reaction. When he dies, he asks G-d why didn't you save me. G-d says "I sent two rowboats and a helicopter, what more did you want?"

Rebeljew said...

nobody

Now I get it. People cannot afford tuition because G-d provides them all the money that they need but they spend the compensatory money on silly things so they complain. Chutzpanyaks.

More wisdom from the mystical approach.

Nobody said...

"People cannot afford tuition because G-d provides them all the money that they need but they spend the compensatory money on silly things so they complain."

If you want to attack strawmen, by all means. But I have no interest in defending positions that you invent.

Rebeljew said...

"On a communal level, we have lost our bearings regarding what is a normal and proper lifestyle, and what is an opulent and improper one[8]. In that context, some Orthodox people spend large sums of money on non-essentials without making yeshiva tuition a top priority, and consequently want to send their children to public school to save money"

There you have it, cut and paste. I agree with the sentiment, but I disagree that we should view people in this position in the way that he does. Most families that I know that have 6 + kids struggle, even with large incomes from both spouses. Are they expected to live in a woodshed and wear rags and hitchhike to work? soem would have it that way. I think we need to look at the decentralized funding of the yeshivas and consider more viable solutions, like:
http://rebeljew.blogspot.com/2005/07/new-paradigm-of-chinuch.html

Nobody said...

"Are they expected to live in a woodshed and wear rags and hitchhike to work?"

I think you are talking about two different types of people. I know of people who have two luxury cars (> $40,000 each) for personal pleasure (as in they aren't sales people who need fancy cars), leased (so they are guaranteed to continue that indefinitely), $200,000 modifications to a $400,000 house, fancy clothes, summer home (another $200,000). Who cry poverty at paying $6,000 tuition. G-d doesn't promise you can keep up with the Joneses. If you can only afford the $200,000 house, then live in that.

Or another case where the person (OK, they weren't so frum anymore at this point in other areas of their life - a sad story) paid for college tuition (pure secular college) plus new laptops for the kids going to college, and then didn't have money for Yeshiva for the yongest kid and wanted to send them to public school (the first time the kid would be in public school after several years in Jewish schools). Obviously, the Yeshiva was not interested in giving her a discount.

I think such people deserve the label in the text you quoted (having mixed-up priorities), and in addition they hurt people who really need a discount. How many times does the Yeshiva have to see this before they become jaded and not interested in giving discounts generally?

Saying that the money comes from G-d doesn't in any way reduce our obligation to help those without money - on the contrary.

Rebeljew said...

"How many times does the Yeshiva have to see this before they become jaded and not interested in giving discounts generally?"

That was the only teretz I could come up with either. But at the same time, if they become jaded, then they drive away people who would otherwise stay in Judaism. More than one family I know laments that all the financial sacrifice and darshas seem to be on one side. If the schools lose track of the reason that they exist, namely chinuch of Jewish children, they would not allow the kids of struggling families to pay for the abuses of other families. These are NOT personal businesses. They are community schools.

dilbert said...

Priorities are very important, obvoiusly. However, to quote this ma'amar as a strict guidline, rather than as a parable is wrong. Ain Somchim al ha ness. Also, my guess is that if you did a study and looked at the money people made and spent on dayschool, Shabbat, etc., you would NOT see that the money spent on those things is "payed back" in any measureable monetary fashion. Who are you kidding? If you spend your money in ways that Hashem wants you too, he pays you back in many ways, but miraculous money in your pocket is not one of the usual ways. This ma'amar needs to be understood in a non-literal way, like all ma'amarim like it. Think about shiluach ha can, or honoring your parents. Just because you do those things doesn't guarantee a long life, despite the literal meaning of the Torah.

Of course people should pay for Jewish education prior to spending for fancy vacations, cars, houses, and other worldy goods. But blithely telling people that the money they spend on tuition will be returned by Hashem is putting a literal spin on whout should be seen as allegorical saying.

By the way, my guess is that Hashem is just as happy with us educating our daughters as our sons. And if I am getting reimbursed for dayschool tuition for my son, I expect equal for my daughters. :-)

Nobody said...

"Ain Somchim al ha ness."

Of course, but that doesn't mean it isn't true. It just means that it isn't the only operative principle. There are other things that can change the calculation.

Nobody said...

"More than one family I know laments that all the financial sacrifice and darshas seem to be on one side."

Experiences differ, of course. Not all schools are the same, but that hasn't been my experience. What I have seen is the community schools work with the community, but out of towners never get a break.

My experience has been that non-negotiable schools with astronomical tuition are the "keep up with the Joneses" schools, not the economical alternative.

"If the schools lose track of the reason that they exist, namely chinuch of Jewish children, they would not allow the kids of struggling families to pay for the abuses of other families. These are NOT personal businesses. They are community schools."

The dillema is that it cuts both ways. The abusive ones that I described don't see themselves as abusive, and would regard the school as having pushed them away, not the other way around. So at the end of the day, how do they filter out so many claims, with so many false ones, when the effect on the kid they say no to ends up the same anyway, regardless of if the parents are "right" or not.

I think putting the onus on the administrators of the schools is misguided. A neutral organization that gives tuitions and negotiates price reductions for successful tuition applicants could go a long way here. And this neutral organization could more easily rotate decision makers to avoid the jadedness.

Rebeljew said...

dilbert
Thanks for saying what I was trying to say more coherently than I did.

nobody

The "many factors change the calculation" argument is exactly the point he is rejecting. It is mashal, not pshat.

Your solution to the tuition problem is putting a poorly sticking bandaid on a severed limb. Teh problem is that th schools are funded wrong. Teh people who need the service (large working families, many children) and the people who have the money (few children, older children grown up, older people etc.) are different people. Hence, you cannot fund through the model of American capitalism, i.e. people getting the service pay for said service. Now our American sensibilities say that if you cannot afford, then you go without. Fine for a washer dryer, but for chinuch. In this case, you must have some method of funding from the center, where teh community holds achrayas for both the school and the students. many successful schools are almost entirely funded by endowments or other community efforts.

Catholic schools do this, which is why they do not charge the hefty tuitions and offer large families an upper limit (since they want to encourage their families to have many children). Public schools do this, in that the people who need the service do not pay, but the landowners (who presumably have the money) pay in prop taxes. It is about time that we faced that we will have to similarly modify our thinking in this way in the case of chinuch. We must consider it a community endeavor, because if it is just a personal business of schooling, there is nothing special about "our" schools. What makes them "ours" is the community achrayas for them.

Nobody said...

"Catholic schools do this"

The stable of celibate teachers and administrators that live off of minimum income helps.

"Now our American sensibilities say that if you cannot afford, then you go without."

Setting up a means tested donation system which raises money from the "haves" (which has nothing to do with how many children they have, it is just a function of money) to give to the "have-nots" staffed by people who do not have a vested interest in the result is precisely such a distribution option. Endowing schools directly (unless you have a governing structure like the Catholics) just ensures the schools spend more money. Look at universities. Many have enough money in endowments to function without tuition, but tuition goes up an order of magnitude higher than inflation.

Your suggested route ensures that the parents have no direct say in the content of the education (as in public and Catholic schools) as they have no control over the money.

Rebeljew said...

nobody

It is not partiularly my suggested route. It simply the only route available. Nowadays, with the current system, generally there is a school "sugar daddy". He is the arbitor of hashkafa.

You got the point on Catholic schools. They are run by people dedicated to the goal (for whatever reason) and it is funded from the center. Hence, people who fund the center, fund the schools. This keeps the hashkafa basically honest, your other objection. The problem in our schools is that there is no center, no unified hashkafa, and no community interest. As you point out, people with no kids / grown kids do not care as much about school. That is part of the problem.

My preferred route is this:
http://rebeljew.blogspot.com/2005/07/new-paradigm-of-chinuch.html