Baruch Hashem, we are the parents of many children. My husband and I both work to be able to support our family. Besides the regular expenses of living (housing, food and clothing), we are burdened with the tuition that we need to pay for private schooling and summer camps. I understand that education costs money. I am just overwhelmed at this time and I’m looking for some guidance and inspiration.
Being honest and transparent, I will confess that I hesitated whether to answer this question. As the director of an educational institution, I know first-hand the tremendous costs that go into financing an institution. This is especially true with an institution that puts a stress on individual attention being given to each student. The overall budget of the institution, far exceeds the income gained from tuition fees.
At the same time, I would like to try to be objective and share some of the Rebbe’s answers that he wrote to parents and to directors of educational institutions about this topic.
As the question was asked by a parent, I will begin with the answers the Rebbe wrote to parents over the years, addressing this specific issue:
- “In regards to tuition payments: It is certain that the parents should speak to the administration of Beis Rivka and work out a deal in regards to payments. It must be within reason, as the teachers also need to be paid. Torah has already revealed to us that in regards to commitments made for the education of our children, the parents are given special help from above to be able to fulfill these commitments.” (Igros, Volume 15 page 358; #5684).
- “This that you mention of the financial hardships in educating your children: When you will remember the great mesiras nefesh (self-sacrifice) everyone experienced in the Soviet Union so that their children should go in the ways of Yiddishkeit and Chassidus, which was way beyond — and unrelated to — financial or health difficulties, you will ask yourself: what is the comparison to the current situation where the only difficulty in investing in the education that lasts a lifetime is a financial one?” (Igros, Volume 20 page 269; #7683)
The following are some answers that the Rebbe wrote to the administrations of educational institutions:
- “I would like to bring to your attention a saying of the Frierdiker Rebbe: Money can always be made up, as the debt can always be paid today or tomorrow. However, in regards to educating one more child: (1) Every day is an entire world of Torah and Yiras Shamayim and what a child misses today can’t be made up the next day. (2) In our times, we need to accept all those that express a desire to learn in Torah institutions. If we do not accept them today, we may miss the opportunity.” (Igros, Volume 26 page 236; #9846).
- “In regards to the question of how to deal with parents that can afford tuition payments, but are avoiding making the payments: The administration may take the necessary steps in this regard. My hope is that by warning them that you will publicize their names, this itself will solve the issue.” (Igros, Volume 15 page 298; #5615).
[This answer is a direct translation of a letter the Rebbe wrote to the administrators of the educational institutions in Kfar Chabad. Upon reflection on the intent of the letter, I am unsure if the “warning of publicity” is that they would publicize their names to the rest of Kfar Chabad or would write their names to the Rebbe — RGA.]
3. In regards to raising the tuition fees of the institutions in Kfar Chabad: It depends on the conditions of the local area. Therefore you should discuss this amongst yourselves along with the Vaad HaRuchni of Kfar Chabad.” (Ibid).
The Moshiach Connection:
Parents make tremendous sacrifices for the education of their children. They work hard to pay the tuition and invest the necessary time in learning with—and davening for—their children. Care should also be taken, and sometimes sacrifice necessary, that the children are in institutions where they are receiving the proper chinuch of our generation.
What is the proper chinuch for our time?
“The education of school children has to be in a manner that the children are completely permeated and absorbed with the ideal of Moshiach. Just by looking at a Jewish child, what should one see? – Moshiach! His entire being is “Moshiach” – i.e., the realization of ‘You have been shown… there is none beside Him.’” (Simchas Torah 5752).