Home
In this issue

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review

Father's obligations toward minor children

By Rabbi Dr. Asher Meir





http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Q. Many states impose strict and sometimes demeaning sanctions on fathers to compel payment of child support. What does Jewish tradition say about this?


A. The prevalent view in the United States is that the main obligation for child support falls on the biological father, and not on the mother or on the community. Often various sanctions apply, for example, the ability to obtain a driver's license, passport etc.


Jewish law as described in the Talmud and authoritative codes doesn't impose the same kind of sanctions, but it definitely shares the view that the father has a legal and ethical obligation to support his minor children, and that it is shameful for him to shirk this obligation.


Technically, Jewish law distinguishes two levels of child support obligation. There is an inherent obligation on the father to provide for his children until age 6; and from then on there is a rabbinical obligation which is viewed as an extension of the general obligation to give charity. But practically speaking there is little difference between the two.


The following Talmudic passage distinguishes various levels of enforcement of this obligation:


When they came before Rav Yehuda [regarding a man who failed to support his children], he said to them: The ostrich gave birth and imposed [its offspring's] support on the public! When they came before Rav Chisda [with such a case], he said to them: Turn over a mortar [to make a stand, like a soapbox], stand on it and announce: "Even a raven cares for its offspring, yet this man doesn't care for his children!" . . . When they came before Rava, he said: "Is this person satisfied that his children should be supported by charity?"

And all this [that the father is reprimanded and shamed, but not actually assessed] applies only if he lacks means, but if has the means we compel him to pay. (1)


The references to the ostrich and the raven are explained by the commentators as follows: These species of birds aren't kind to their offspring, but at the very least they provide them with food; so this man is behaving worse than an animal.


The motivation behind this law is evidently the same as that in secular law: both to insure that the father personally participates in providing for the children, and to ensure that the children don't become a burden on community funds. "Charity begins at home" and a person's first obligation is to his wife and his young children.


It is impossible for me to comment in detail on the various provisions of the child support laws in the US. There are certainly differences; for example, in Jewish law a father with no means is not formally compelled to pay child support, but under secular law he may be. But we clearly see that Jewish law perceives a cardinal ethical obligation for a father to support his children even if his means are limited. After all, the Talmud concludes that if he has means they are subject to collection, and presumably his wages would be subject to garnishment. It is specifically the father who currently has no means to support his children who is shamed, in order to persuade him to do whatever is necessary in order to provide for them.


This obligation definitely does not preclude a voluntary arrangement, one increasingly common in our society, whereby the mother is the breadwinner. In that case the father is indeed providing for his children through this voluntary agreement. But the primary obligation for the support of the children falls on the father, and not on the mother or the public purse.


SOURCES: (1) Babylonian Talmud, Kesubos 49:1-2

Interested in a private Judaic studies instructor — for free? Let us know by clicking here.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes inspiring articles. Sign up for our daily update. It's free. Just click here.

To comment or pose a question, please click here.

ARCHIVES



JWR contributor Rabbi Dr. Asher Meir, formerly of the Council of Economic Advisers in the Reagan administration, is Research Director of the Business Ethics Center of Jerusalem, Jerusalem College of Technology.

THE JEWISH ETHICIST, NOW IN BOOK FORM

You've enjoyed his columns on JWR for years. Now the Jewish Ethicist has culled his most intriguing — and controversial — offerings in book form.
HARDCOVER
PAPERBACK
Sales help fund JWR.









© 2009, The Jewish Ethicist is produced by the JCT Center for Business Ethics