Friday, January 29, 2010

Support in Kollel; Kaddish; Yahrtzeit

Is Support Tzedakah?

The Gemora discusses the obligation for one to support his sons and/or daughters.

The Shulchan Aruch (E”H 71:1) rules that one is obligated to support his children, but only up to the age of six. Beyond that age, the Sages instituted that he support them, but the court has no power to force him to do so.

The Shulchan Aruch (YD 253:3) rules that supporting one’s children is a form of tzedakah, based on the Gemora (Kesuvos 50a) that explains the verse extolling one who is oseh tzedakah b’chol ais – does tzedakah at all times, as referring to one who supports his young children.

The Shach (4) explains that this refers to children above the age of six, whom the father has no enforceable obligation to support.

The Poskim discuss whether one may therefore use money set aside as ma’aser for supporting his children.

The Taz (YD 249:1), echoing the Rama, says that ma’aser is meant exclusively for the poor, and supporting one’s children is like any other monetary obligation, which may not be fulfilled with ma’aser money.

The Shach (YD 249:3) disagrees, based on the Maharam miRutenburg, citing the Gemora in Kesuvos, which refers to supporting one’s older children as a form of tzedakah.

The Igros Moshe (YD 1:143) states that the obligation to support one’s wife includes an obligation to support her children, as long as they live with him. Such an obligation is like any other monetary obligation, which may not be fulfilled with ma’aser money. The Igros Moshe says that even the Shach only meant to include children who are of an age to earn their own living and live on their own, but would agree that one’s support for children living at home may not come from ma’aser money.

The Yechave Da’as (3:76) rules that one may take ma’aser money to support children above the age of six, and rejects the Igros Moshe’s assumption that support of one’s wife includes an obligation to support her children. Further, he rules that one may use ma’aser money for any form of support – including providing food, furnishing an apartment for a new couple, and supporting children learning Torah pre and post marriage. He recommends that one stipulate before earning money that he will use the ma’aser to provide such support, as some Poskim allow such a stipulation to allow use of ma’aser for other purposes. He adds that although the Rabbinate of Israel instituted a rule to force parents to support their children until the age of fifteen, this is simply giving more power to the institution of the Sages, but does not change the nature of such support from the status of tzedakah.

A Daughter First
is a Good Sign for Sons

by: Meoros HaDaf HaYomi

The Maharsha explains that a firstborn daughter prevents any discord that would arise between the sons if one of them were a firstborn, as now all of them inherit equal portions. If, however, a father leaves a firstborn son after him, he gets a double portion and his brothers become jealous. “A daughter first” is therefore a good sign that peace will reign among her brothers.

Others explain that a big sister will care for her brothers willingly and energetically, as she knows that “most sons are like their mother’s brothers.” In other words, when she is ready to marry, people will inquire after her brothers and she therefore has a good reason to help them grow up properly (Peninei Kedem).

Who Supports Whom?

Rabbi Eliezer Gordon eventually became the Rosh Yeshivah at Telz and one of the leading Torah figures of his generation, but after his marriage, he was supported by his father-in-law, who was a rabbi and a great scholar, but exceedingly poor. Still, despite his indigence, he contributed to his son-in-law’s welfare and, moreover, prevented him from responding to any of the many offers tempting him to serve as rabbi in various communities. Witnessing their sorry plight, his wife often tried to convince him to allow their renowned son-in-law to become an officiating rabbi, if only to keep him from resorting to their support. Nonetheless, he refused and once even rebuked her, saying, “Who knows who’s supporting whom?” Eventually, though, his wife prevailed upon him so unrelentingly that he had to agree that Rabbi Gordon should accept the next offer. Such an opportunity soon came and Rabbi Eliezer and his family packed their belongings and moved to another town. The same day the father-in-law suddenly collapsed and passed away. Those who attended the funeral and knew the family echoed his remark: “Who knows who’s supporting whom?”

Those who Learned Mishnayos for their own Departed Souls

Our Gemora highly praises anyone who leaves a son to inherit his estate. A previous Gemora, on 116a, applies the verse “…cry for the one who goes” (Yirmyahu 22:10) to a person who fails to leave a son after him. The Gemora in Sanhedrin explains that sons increase their fathers’ merits and the halachah accordingly stresses the importance of a son’s saying kaddish for his father (Remo in Shulchan ‘Aruch, Y.D. 376:4; Responsa Binyamin Ze’ev, 51).

A Father who Told his Son to Say Kaddish for 12 Months

To be careful for his father’s honor, a son stops saying kaddish for him 11 months after his demise; saying kaddish for the full year of mourning would suggest the father was a rasha, as only the evil stay in Gehinnom for 12 months (Remo, ibid).

Halachic authorities have discussed the question of a son, whose father commanded him to say kaddish for a full year.

HaGaon Rav Shlomo Kluger zt”l commanded his son to do so and the latter asked Rabbi Yitzchak Shmelkes of Lvov, author of Beis Yitzchak, as to how to behave, fearing that such an act would disgrace his father.

The Beis Yitzchak (II, 157) ruled that he should say kaddish for a full year to obey his father, as that would be the best way of honoring him (see ibid as to the halachah concerning the thirteenth month in a leap year).

Hiring a Person to Say Kaddish

If the deceased had no son, some relative should say the kaddish according to the following order of preference: the deceased’s sons’ sons, his daughters’ sons, his father, his brothers and other relatives. In the absence of any relative, a person should be hired to say kaddish for the elevation of his soul and according to the Kaf HaChayim (55:30), the person hired should say before any prayer that the kaddeishim he is about to say are for the elevation of the soul of So-and-so.

May a Daughter Say Kaddish?

Several halachic authorities ruled that if the deceased had no son, his daughter should say kaddish in a minyan at her home, and some even had the custom that if the daughter was very small, she would say kaddish in a synagogue. Still, almost all the Poskim hold that daughters must not say kaddish even at home, and if she wants to increase her father’s merits, she should answer amen after the sheliach tzibur (Penei Baruch: Aveilus BaHalachah, 34:20, in the name of Shevus Ya’akov, etc., and see S.K. 36).

Why Rav Auerbach Said Kaddish for Rabbi Shlomo Kluger’s Granddaughter

HaGaon Rav Shlomoh Zalman Auerbach zt”l used to say kaddish for his relatives who had no one else to say it, and also for a woman called Shasha Mindel bas Rav Chayim Yehudah on her yahrzeit, 24 Nisan.

Shasha Mindel was not his relative and no one paid him to honor her yahrzeit. She was the granddaughter of HaGaon Rav Shlomo Kluger, who lost her father as a girl and was brought up by her grandfather; she passed away many years before Rav Auerbach was born. She suffered much during her short life and had no children.

Rav Kluger dedicated his Nidrei Zeiruzin, on tractate Nedarim, to her memory and in his preface he describes her short life and appeals to any reader to “mention her soul on the anniversary of her demise… He who is not thus dishonored should say kaddish for her… and he who thinks he is thus dishonored should pay a worthy poor person a small amount to say kaddish for her and this will be a true kindness done for the deceased and for me and their reward from Heaven will be double.” As one who learnt Rav Kluger’s works, Rav Auerbach obeyed his request despite the long time since her demise (Halichos Shlomo, Ch. 18, note 78).

Nine Years and One Son-in-Law

Immigrants from Russia recount that Jews in the communist era used to maintain groups for learning mishnayos in the remaining synagogues. The special feature of these groups, however, was that the members learnt mishnayos for the merit of their own souls as in the bitter reality of the Soviet regime, they could not rely on their sons to remember them in any way. A member of one group learnt mishnayos for himself for nine years before he passed away. His daughter eventually emigrated to Eretz Yisroel and wed a Torah scholar, who began to learn mishnayos in his father-in-law’s memory. When? Exactly nine years after his father-in-law’s demise!


Does a Father have to Support his Son in Kollel?

By: Reb Avraham Klein

The Gemora cites Rabbi Meir that says: It is a mitzvah for a person to support his daughters and certainly his sons that learn Torah. This Gemora appears in Maseches Kesubos (49a) as well, and there ,the Gemora infers that it is a mitzvah, but not a chovah (obligation).

At what age is Rabbi Meir referring to? What about the sons that don’t learn Torah?

There are three categories:

1) Children under six years old: Their father is obligated to support them, even if the children have money (one of the only ways that money would be theirs and not automatically belonging to their father is if it was from an inheritance), and even if their mother died. (Shulchan Aruch Even Ha’ezer Siman 71 Sief 1)

2) Children aged six to Bar/Bas Mitzva: Chazal instituted that their father should support them if they don’t have money, even if he himself is not wealthy. If he chooses not to, we scream at him and shame him. If this doesn’t work, then we take even more drastic measures: We publicly announce that this person is a callous cold-hearted man that refuses to support his own children. However, we can’t actually force him to support them. In a case where the father is wealthy and can easily afford to support his children and he doesn’t, then we forcibly take away money from him to support them (ibid).

3) Children that are over the age of Bar/Bas Mitzva (gadlus): The father is obligated to support them like any other poor person (Shulchan Aruch Yoreh De’ah Siman 151 Sief 4).

The Bais Shmuel (in Even Ha’ezer ibid) explains that the father’s obligation to these children is equivalent to any other of his relatives. However, regarding the children under gadlus, the father has a greater obligation towards them than he has to other relatives.

A father that gives money to his children who he is not obligated to support, so that they can learn Torah, that money is considered tzedakah (and can be deducted from his ma’aser). Furthermore, he must support them before any other tzedakah. This is true for any relative that learns Torah, not just a son (ibid Sief 3).

There are many other halachos regarding tzedakah and ma’aser that was not mentioned here. One should always ask a competent Posek in this or any other area of halachha. There are many halachos about the order of tzedakah, how much to give, who should one not give to, etc.