[Avodah] Halachic basis for child support

Chana Luntz Chana at kolsassoon.org.uk
Tue Jan 8 14:17:26 PST 2013

RMB wrote:

>This is something I know little about, so I had some questions.
: There is disagreement amongst the rishonim whether the obligation to
: children is from the Torah up until the age of six, and then rabbinic
: six until they are no longer katanim (shte sieros) - the latter enactment
: being that of the takana of Usha (as set out in Kesubos 49b), or whether
: is all rabbinic...

>Either way, the end date of adult-hood would be derabbanan.

>So I was wondering about shetei sa'aros. Isn't that only for deOraisos, and
miderabbanan we rely on age? Why >wouldn't the taqanah made in Usha
"kesheheim qetanim" run until 12/13 years?

It's a good question, and one I can't answer more than to say that while the
Shulchan Aruch and the Tur just say until gadlus, as does the gemora,  Rashi
there on Kesubos 49b bring shtei sa'aros, and so quotes the Beis Yosef in
his name, without any comment. And so too brings the Prisha, referring to
the Gemora in Kiddushin as establishing gadlus as shte sa'aros.  And in my
cursory review, I can't see anybody who comments on this, and makes your
point - but basically it seems to be a kasha on Rashi, and on the Beis Yosef
who brings Rashi without comment and on the Prisha.

: The modern rabbanut, by takana, extended this obligation to support to
: fifteen or sixteen, but it is only an extension of something that already
: existed up until 12 or 13.

>If one is separately obligated to support minor children, I presume that
couldn't come out of ma'aser kesafim. >(To whatever extent maaser kesafim is
obligatory -- it's the only case I know there opinions range from >deOraisa
to minhag chassidus and every possibility in between.)

>What about one's older dependent child? And if that can come out of
tzedaqah money, could a modern rabbinic >
>"taqanah" be sufficient to render this a debt that can no longer come from

I suggest in pursuing this you start with the comment of the Beis Shmuel
there on Even HaEzer siman 71 si'if katan 3.  He is clearly bothered by the
fact that even after gadlus, the father would be obligated to support his
children due to toras tzedaka as a close relative (and quotes Yoreh Deah
siman 221), so what difference does this takanas chachamim make.  He
suggests several answers:  One that it really is the same, but that prior to
gadlus for sure the children will not have the means to support themselves,
but after they might, so the obligation might no longer be there; and two
(which he brings from the Bach and the Drisha) is that after gadlus he is
required to support them the same as any other close relative, but prior to
gadlus there is some greater obligation (which might suggest that indeed you
can't count this as part of your tzedaka money).  

On the other hand, if you look at the language of the Shulchan Aruch it
states that he is denounced publically for not supporting his children even
if he does not have money to give to tzedaka - (ie there is a expectation
that he will go out and work to earn money for this obligation, and he is
publically shamed if he does not, whereas for other relatives the other
obligation is just out of tzedaka money).  But then in the  final portion of
this siman the Shulchan Aruch states that if they assess that he has money
which is suitable to be given to tzedaka, they can go and take that money to
support his children, which might suggest that perhaps it could be deemed
part of ma'aser, and they are just ensuring the ma'aser is going where it
ought to go.

So I don't know that it is that straightforward to say it is not tzedaka
even with regard to the amounts obligated by the takana of Usha, and so it
seems to me there could definitely be an argument that the money obligated
by the rabbanut should come out of ma'aser - but similarly there is an
argument to the contrary, that it is not longer toras tzedaka, but from the
torah of listening to the rabbis, and so does not count. I guess one would
consult your LOR for a practical ruling, but it would seem from my reading
of the sources to be able to go both ways.

>Tir'u baTov!



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