I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that money is very often uppermost on my mind. Between basic living expenses, house expenses, two major yom tov seasons per year, and tuition, keeping up with the cost of Jewish living can be quite stressful. But Hashem does send chizuk in various forms, and I hope the following story will inspire you as much as it did me.
This year, my husband and I changed our children’s yeshiva to an excellent but rather pricey one. The Gemara in Beitzah 16a (thanks to my husband for finding the reference) tells us that all the money we spend on chinuch comes back to us. Besides this, we also receive the nachas of frum children. Clearly, schar limud is a worthwhile investment. But again, making those payments does not come easily, at least not for me.
The Shabbos after my husband and I decided on the change of yeshivas, as I was walking outside and thinking the very vochedigge thought of: “How in the world am I going to make tuition payments?” I ran into a lady I know. She is probably in her 60’s and already has teenage grandchildren. Though I did not bring my worries up to her, somehow, she and I began talking about yeshiva tuition.
This lady’s life story floored me. She raised her children single-handedly because she was divorced from her first husband. That meant she had to be both mother and father. She held down a full-time job and was also responsible for all the housework and homework. As a further stress, she could not make ends meet on her salary.
The yeshiva knew her situation and was kind to her: they allowed her to pay 10% of her income instead of a regular tuition. She offered them 20% instead. She felt she knew how to tighten her belt, having lived through the war as a child. I looked on this woman with tremendous awe as she spoke about her life.
Then she added more to her story to impress me further. Whenever she would get a pay raise, she would report it to the yeshiva and increase her payments to them. How many people would do that? It is information that could easily be hidden; a yeshiva isn’t the IRS, after all. This woman is supremely ehrlich.
After a few years, a man on the yeshiva Board of Directors had a change of heart and demanded the lady increase her payments to the yeshiva. If she would not pay more, he threatened to send her children home.
“I can’t possibly pay more,” she told him, “so I suppose you’ll have to send my children home.”
She then called the school principal and told him what happened. Not only did he take her side, he said, “Your kids are such model students, we ought to pay you to keep them in yeshiva.”
From here she began to talk like a proud mother, and though she didn’t say it expressly, I understood from what she said that if you make your children’s religious education a real priority, both in payments and in personal efforts, G-d will reward you with results.