Opinion: How Not to Support Your Kids


moneyBy Kollel Guy

There are a few different ways of doing kollel support. Some are better than others, but then there is the type that is just plain stupid, and also very harmful to the family who is being supported.A well known g’vir had been supporting his son-in-law and daughter for over 20 years by simply giving them a checkbook that did not have to be balanced. Meaning, they would be able to write checks without having to worry if there was enough money in the account, because there always was enough. They were able to shop for food, clothing, seforim, furniture, even take the family to Eretz Yisroel for Yom Tov, without having to account for a thing.

This son-in-law once related to a close friend, “I don’t know what it means to pay an electric bill. I never paid one in my life.” Of course he mailed the check to the utility company. He just meant that the money came out of an account that he did not see, did not know, and quite frankly, didn’t care much about.

That is, until six months ago. Six month’s ago, his father in law’s business got zapped by the economic downturn. He informed his son-in-law that the “account” from which the checks were drawn was being closed. No further explanation was necessary. They were being placed “on their own” after being on the draw for over 20 years.

The problem is not that the support stopped so abruptly. The problem is not that he is refusing to continue supporting them after 20 years. The real problem here is that the father of this family hasn’t a clue on how to manage money. Imagine a 45-year-old with no idea on how to pay a light bill, where to get money to buy clothing, and how to pay the mortgage.

Add to that his daughter just turned 18 years old. Weddings are just around the corner. And he hasn’t a clue on how he is going to pay for them. Since he always lived comfortably, the velt (and shadchanim) will expect him to be generous with support and chasuna expenses.

The final word: Unless the father in law’s money comes back really quick, their family would have been better off had they not lived off his support all these years. Then they at least would have a clue.

{Kollel Guy/Matzav.com Newscenter}


  1. Vary sad and VERY true.

    Adam L’amal Yulad. Welfare and shvers are not called work. Priority should be given to the working poor.

  2. why do people always rely on in-laws for expenses..my belief is if they are old enough to get married then they are old enough to earn a parnassah..i know a few couples who rely on their in-laws for everything, from cleaning help to bills..i know one mother who was giving her son everything-and i mean everything(from paying their rent to cleaning ladies)..one day the mother saw her daughter in law with a fancy baby stroller..she nonchalantley asked her daughter who bought this nice present..she responded her sister..all of the sudden her 5 year old waltzes in the room and says uhuh mommy you bought it last week..this is a true story that happened a couple of months ago..so when her mother in law heard her granddaughter say that, she put her foot down right there and then and said that she isnt paying for anything of theirs again..well my husband and i dont ask for anything..we live B”H simple..our kids dont ask for anything because they know and we taught them if you want something in life Hashem will give it to you..if you dont have it Hashem doesnt want you to have it..we have been doing this for years..try it..it may take sme time..but if you really have that strong emunah like we did over time, you’ll get there..we wish you Hatzlocha..and remember the good things come to those who wait 🙂

  3. The shver has not lost all his money!

    A wise investor, he put twenty years worth of support in to an investment that can never be lost. Hopefully, the son-in-law toiled in Torah all this time without any distractions. Whether he has grown to be a tremendous talmid chochom or has simply “banked” 20 years of hasmada b’limud hatorah, the shver and Klal Yisroel are blessed with riches that even the biggest recession cannot take away.

    The writer of the article, who unfortunately has an agenda, is correct in asserting that a shver ought to know what he is supporting and not allow a couple to become dependent if the husband is not truly fulfilling his end of the bargain. But without knowing the details of the case in question it behooves all of us to assume that the twenty years were spent learning in earnest.

    May the One Above, who has blessed our generation with the wherwithal to support generations of lomdei Torah to come, grant the gvirim of our time with the seichel that they can ensure their billions only by investing in limud hatorah.

  4. Here we are again bashing kolel.y don’t we just get over it.There are people working for their parents with the same issue.parents have to give over responsibilties to their children no matter what they do.

  5. there is absolutly nothing wrong with being supported!- to all you people that are so proud of yourself that you live on your own! yes the way my father and father inlaw support me is smarter because they give me a check and then i spend it how i see fit. but i wonder to all you people who are bragging that you dont get supported- if you were offered the support are you honestly saying that you wouldnt even take the money?!?!?! or maybe you just feel sad about the fact that your husband cannot sit in Kollel because he’s just not cut out for it so there is no need for you to be supported. being supported is great and yes if it will stop of course it will be hard but it will be the same hard for any working person that would get laid off!!

  6. The shver helped him sit an learn without any worries, why criticizes someone who is so generous?
    Author of this article, are you jealous or something?

  7. #5, no one is bashing kolel. Just the “live off the in laws”. Don’t you think its sad that people with grown children cant manage to run a budget? (As mentioned in the article)

  8. let me ask you:what do you have planned for your kids? who will support them. How do you plan to sustain your lifestyle fo rmore than 1 generation? Do you realize that if you don’t report every penny your father/father in law gives you as a gift on your taxes, you are commiting tax fraud, i.e. stealing?

  9. Yes, too many have no inkling what it means to have a budget.
    Speaking to a friend who was learning in Israel and now coming back home to learn, he asked me how much I make. When I told him I was in an entery level position, making about $22,000, he said, “oh, that’s a lot”. Then he asked me about getting a car. He had no idea that aside from the actual car fuel cost are generally a few hundred a month, plus auto-insurance. Then I asked him if he got health insurance yet. More than $1,000 a month I told him. I asked him how much he was paying a month for rent in Israel, which he said, $1,600.
    We haven’t touched food, utilities, cell phone, clothing, etc… and the $22,000 wasn’t sounding like too much anymore…

  10. REgarding number 3, (deep thinker) A 5 year old is posul leiadus!! The mother most probably got it as a gift from her sister, but she went to the store to pick it up!! I truly hope that no one’s mother in law relies on what the five year old in a family says!!

  11. 6, ten touches on an important point, and problem. Many people leave kollel when they can’t manage on the money coming in. Problem is, entry level anything may be less than kollel stipend + support + random bein hasdorim jobs etc. Difficult as it may be, most kollel couples need a solid exit plan.

  12. For all the small minded people that think the author is bashing kollel, he is NOT bashing kollel at all. He’s bashing parents allowing their children to remain irresponsible. You can support your children in a way that fosters fiscal responsiblity. Parents are commiting a tremendous disservice by supporting their chilren in a manner which breeds fiscal irresponsiblity.
    To the poster who asks if I would take money if it was offered I would say – honestly I would take it, the same way I’ll eat a piece of cake knowing it was not good for me, but doing so anyway because of the tremendous appeal. The difference is I would probably take money given to me and put it directly into savings and not spend it. My husband is in kollel and I work a real job to support our family b’h I can, but this lifestlye has taught us certain fundamentals about finances and saving that most of my peers seem to be oblivious of.

  13. Just because someone is being supported does not mean that they will not handle losing support – it is a major challenge, but NO DIFFERENT than having a secure job for 20 years and LOSING IT. Who exactly are you knocking? What exactly are you saying? Are you knocking the shver for dedicating a lot of money to his children for Kollel – what could stand him in better stead? – Should he have trained them to keep a budget? – i think most mature people know how to live within a budget no matter where they get their money from, and it was the kids job to be mature enough to handle this generous arrangement without losing their ability to live rationally. Kollel is a wonderful thing – halvei we should all be able to support people living in Kollel – and be machshiv them for the true support that they give the world!

  14. I guess we’re the kollel couple that’s the exception to the rule!! (and my husband gets the credit). We were offered support, but declined as I was earning enough money to support ourselves. Yes, we could’ve used the money to buy more clothes/meats/etc…, but we didn’t see the reason to have to take when we didn’t need it to live on a basic level!

  15. In previous generations none of the gedolim was supported in this fashion. It is wonderful to sit and learn but you have to live on a kollel lifestyle not on an open checkbook with no cheshbon.

  16. When our children are born, we do not give them a choice as which religion they want to follow.

    We tell them you are going to be a Orthodox Jew. You will will get married and have children before you establish a solid Parnosoh.

    At this point, (whether we like it or not), we just undertook to support them until they could do so on their own.

  17. The proper way to support is to give a fixed amount ,not too much but enough for them to live decently ,and let them live within that budget . This is true even if yiu are very wealthy .

  18. To number 16,
    Any number of gedolim ( and others who wre not gedolim, yet talmedie chachomim) were fully supported by their shver after marriage while they worked. R’ Yosef Engel ZT”L whose yahrtzeit was just this week is an example.

  19. “but NO DIFFERENT than having a secure job for 20 years and LOSING IT”
    Quite a bit different, you were part of the work culture, established and finetuned your working skill and tools. You can network for other opportunities and most importantly YOU CAN COLLECT UNEMPLOYMENT FOR ALMOST A YEAR, while you get ready for the next episode in life.

  20. I am in kollel, and I wish I can leave to make my own money and support my growing family. But my family won’t let. Not my wife (seminary brainwashed), and not my shver, and not my father.

    I’m stuck!

  21. hi #3 i will tell you what ended up happening the owner of the stroller was this 5 year olds mother..she had confessed that the 5 year old was telling the truth and she tried to keep it a secret, to no avail..and i am friends with this mother in law and she ssaid since that incident she hasnt bought her son and daughter anything except for her grandschildren from that particular family..so remember children don’t lie unless they are told to or dont know when to say something or not..remember children are like sponges, they absorb everything around them and it doesnt take long to squeeze out the truth out of them.. 🙂

  22. to ! and all the others that are bashing the author, how do you propose this family survive. I am quite sure that from the tone of this article this family has been living on a very comfortable scale. that takes hundreds of thousands of dollars!! had the husband been working, he would probably have had some retirement savings and certainly social securtiy. He would also be eligible for unemployment which at this point i think lasts for a year. He also would have some skills where maybe he could find another job that pays at a lesser level but still a livable wage. to all you people being supported, Do you have a clue how much money it takes to live at the level you’ve gotten accustomed to and how much the world expects from you before they want to give you that money, stop knocking working people until you’ve tried it and found out how hard it is. I can almost guarantee you that this family will turn to tzedaka for survival and that will require very large amounts of money! I am sure they own their own home in an expensive neighborhood. they should sell their home and rent nearby or move to a cheaper neighborhood and buy a cheaper home and use that money as a way to survive until they figure out how to actually earn money. although the father in law a might have invested in his son in law for 20 years and feel that it was a good investment, the son in law is still left with the job of trying to support his family now that the bottom fell off the barrel.

  23. 14, the analogy is missing something. If someone gets laid off, he sends out his resume and hopefully finds another job in his field. Is this person supposed to send out a resume, looking for Zevulun to support a clueless Yissachar?

  24. I agree that adults should have responsbility and learn how to manage money, but I’m not sure what the point of this story is. IT’s so extreme that most of us average joe shmoes can’t learn a lesson from it. How many people can afford to fully support another family for 20 years? This father in law was obviously a multi-millionare. And most multi-millionares don’t live as if they’re about to lose their money.
    #22 Tum – I’m not sure why your shver and father have a say in this. The only one who matters is your wife. I guess you gotta start working on brainwashing her the other way. But you’re not stuck. You’re an adult with free choice and if you’re old enough to support your family you’re old enough to take control of your life.

  25. ask your accountant about gifts greater than (last i checked 10,000). it’s taxable. otherwise there would be no estate tax, everyone would just “gift” everything to their kids before dying, you can’t do that. Bottom line- it’s tax fraud (not to mention that these “gifts” would often make one ineligible for medicaid)

  26. gifts are taxable to the giver not the receivor. If someone gives you a gift there is no obligation on your part to pay taxes or file any documents. There are also exclusions for providing support, where any amount would not be taxble. I do not know how any of this comes into play regarding receipt of government benefits.