Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Igros Moshe on Tuition, part iii

Just to attempt to draw some conclusions from Rav Moshe's teshuva, translated in the last post, it would appear that while Rav Moshe Feinstein attempts to establish sending a girl to Beis Yaakov as on par with sending a boy to yeshiva, in terms of religious obligation and therefore as a matter which cannot be maintained optimally with maaser money, practically, there are a number of facets in which many parents today can indeed use money otherwise to be allocated as maaser money, as tuition for both girls and boys.

1. Firstly, in terms of girls schools, Rav Moshe initially agreed to the assumption that
"For learning Scripture, behold the father is obligated to teach his sons even through payment {to someone else to teach}, and thus it is a matter of obligation, which he is not allowed to pay from the maaser. However for daughters, where it is not an obligation on the father to teach them Torah, behold it is not a matter which is an obligation, and {thus} if there is a need, it is feasible to permit to give from the maaser money."
He continued, though, with a reason against:
"However, in out country here, that we are obligated by the law of the land to teach them in their own {public} schools, and via the chessed of Hashem Yisbarach upon Israel, there is the permission to teach them in schools which are under the direction of kosher Jews and those who fear Hashem, such that if he does not give his daughter to learn in a kosher school, such as this Beis Yaakov or the like, to be instructed there in the path of the Torah, of faith, and of keeping of the commandments, he would be required to give her over to a state school, which chas veShalom has neither Torah nor faith. For this one is obligated to also see to it that his daughter is kosher, to believe in Hashem and His Torah, and to fulfill all His commandments, even with expenditure of money. Therefore, it is a matter of obligation."
Nowadays, however, one could home-school, and thus public school is not the only alternative. This might be a reason for concluding that one can use maaser money lechatchila to pay tuition for girls' schools.

2. Secondly, yeshiva tuitions for both boys and girls nowadays are exorbitant, especially if one has multiple children.

Rav Moshe writes:
"However, practically, that which is possible according to his livelihood to pay, this he is not permitted to take from maaser money, and if they request more, he is able to take the addition from maaser money. And this is true also for tuition for sons."
This condition may well be met by many parents, such that a large portion would be able to use a large portion of maaser money to pay tuition for both sons and daughters.

3. Finally, Rav Moshe writes:
"And according to the accounting of his maaser, it is apparent that he profits less that his expenditures, such that according to the din, he is exempt, for his own parnassa {/support} comes before every other man, as is {stated} in the Rema, siman 251 seif 3. And it is as an extra level and middat chassidut to give the maaser to charity, and to have difficulty in expenditures for his family, certainly there is not to be stringent in this."
For the many parents going into hock to pay for their children's tuition, this would indeed seem to meet the criteria. As such, one could use this money and not worry about having to allocate maaser money for other causes.

Despite all these practical kulot where necessary, on a meta-level, Rav Moshe thus established the importance of Jewish education for both boys and girls.

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